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Last updated 11:09PM ET
March 7, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
AU Raptor Center Releases Owls
(2008-04-12)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Six eastern screech owls nursed back to health at the Auburn University Southeast Raptor Center have been released into the wild in flights that awed a crowd gathered to watch.

The owls had all been injured in some way, and some had been recuperating at the Raptor Center for as long as six months, technician Liz Crandall said.

About 45 people went into the woods Friday evening to watch the release.

Karen and Guy Beckwith showed up because of their interest in wildlife.

"I read about places where they released animals back into the wild," Karen Beckwith told the Opelika-Auburn News. "When I found out about it happening in our own back yard, I thought, 'We must do this.' It's a unique experience."

"We rehabilitate 200 to 300 birds a year," Crandall said. "These come from all over the Southeast."

After treatment, many of the birds are released back into the wild.

At each stop in the woods Friday, a Raptor Center volunteer withdrew a tiny red owl. With a little encouragement, the owl swooped off to cries of delight and applause from the crowd.

Most of the screech owls glided off into the woods to find new homes. One perched in a nearby tree to pose for pictures.

Dale Dickens, director of student services with the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, said each time the center organizes a release, people's reactions are worth watching.

"I would describe it as awe," Dickens said. "The kids get a thrill out of watching them fly and the way they fly with such low light."

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Information from: Opelika-Auburn News

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