January 21, 2019
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Injured snowy owl rescued on Maine beach

Cindy and David Jester drove down the Phippsburg peninsula Sunday morning to Popham Beach, hoping to beat the rain forecast for that afternoon.

“It was gray and dreary, but Cindy wanted to go to the beach,” David said.

The couple parked near Fort Popham, then walked the beach and turned back. As they neared the fort, David saw a snowy owl hopping along some rocks. Suspicious that the owl didn’t fly away, he looked closer and discovered what appeared to be an injured wing.

When the owl — Jester estimates it was about 15 inches tall — began to hop onto the rock ledge near the ocean, Jester said, “That’s when we got kind of nervous.”

Then he called for help. A Brunswick firefighter, Jester called the Brunswick police station, and was connected to the Maine Warden Service. Within an hour, warden Evan Franklin arrived at the beach, and the rescue effort began in earnest.

Armed with a net, Franklin and Jester clambered out onto the rocks as Cindy Jester filmed.

“Evan asked me if I could go down to the rock and keep the owl from going toward the ocean while he got his net,” David Jester said Tuesday. “I crouched down and tried to keep the owl’s focus on me as [Franklin] approached from behind. I kept making a clicking noise with my mouth, and then clapping.”

Although at one point the owl “spun its head around and looked right at the game warden,” eventually he scooped the creature up in the net.

Franklin used special gloves to remove the owl from the net, then placed a sheet over a towel and transferred it to a cat carrier for the trip to Avian Haven, a nonprofit wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom.

On Tuesday, Diane Winn at Avian Haven said the snowy owl was “doing much better than the typical winter snowy owl admission,” despite a “metacarpal fracture” in its wing.

“It’s a little on the thin side, but the blood work looked pretty good,” Winn said. “And he’s starting to eat solid food this afternoon, so we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Winn said Avian Haven usually sees one snowy owl at most each winter, but this year five have turned up — “mostly starved to death.”

With this owl on the mend, Cindy and David Jester headed back to Brunswick for the breakfast they’d missed. They celebrated the victory with mimosas at Portland Pie Company.

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