Spirit Filled Wings founder and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator Linda Born works with the owl.

Spirit Filled Wings founder and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator Linda Born works with the owl.

Photo provided by Gus Calandrino


Police, licensed rehabber rescue injured owl in Utica

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 26, 2021

 The Utica Police Department and Spirit Filled Wings Raptor Rehabilitation rescued an injured long-eared owl from near the Target on Hall Road May 5.

The Utica Police Department and Spirit Filled Wings Raptor Rehabilitation rescued an injured long-eared owl from near the Target on Hall Road May 5.

Photo provided by Linda Born

UTICA — The Utica Police Department recently rescued an injured long-eared owl from near the Target shopping center on Hall Road May 5.

The long-eared owl is a threatened species in Michigan.

Utica Mayor Gus Calandrino said the department was notified of an injured owl that day.

“Utica PD received a 911 call to rescue an owl at the Target center on Hall Road. Our officers responded and brought the bird back to our police facility, where it spent the night. We contacted Spirit Filled Wings Raptor Rehabilitation, and they took the owl into care that morning,” said Calandrino via email.

Spirit Filled Wings Raptor Rehabilitation is a nonprofit organization providing rehabilitation for orphaned or injured birds of prey.

Linda Born, the founder and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator at Spirit Filled Wings Raptor Rehabilitation, which serves Oakland and Macomb counties, said she received a call from Utica police about an owl that an officer had picked up during the prior evening.

“When I arrived at the station and peeked inside the box, I was surprised to see a long-eared owl. They migrate here to breed but are very limited in population and are considered a threatened and endangered species in Michigan. I generally get one into rehab about every other year but haven’t seen one in rehab for about three years,” Born said in an email interview.

She said it’s good to know that long-eared owls are still here during their breeding season, and she wants to get the owl back out in nature as soon as possible, as the long-eared owls currently are nesting.

“Upon examining … the bird appeared to be a healthy male with no trauma, other than a scraped-up cere (beak). Because of the location where the bird was found, I determined that the bird probably flew into the building glass while chasing prey. More than likely, mice,” she said.

She said Spirit Filled Wings tries to help birds and get them back to their habitats as soon as possible

“My policy, as a state and federal rehabber, is to never keep a bird if not necessary, or longer than necessary. So, I made the decision to release the bird back near where it was found … the same night. The owl flew beautifully and headed to where his mate was, more than likely, waiting for him to return,” she said.

Born said that because owls are nocturnal, they must be released under the cover of darkness.

“I’m very grateful to the Utica police for intervening and picking up this special bird. The police have always been very instrumental in helping in this way, and they should be given credit for all the good they do. I so appreciate them. Because they did intervene, the owl had a chance to return to its nest. Thank you to the Utica police,” she said.

She said all birds of prey are protected and can only be handled by, or cared for by, a federally licensed person.

“I have been doing this for going on 33 years, as Michigan has few federal rehabbers trained, experienced and authorized to do this. Some state rehabilitators have federal licenses in order to rehab waterfowl or migrating passerines (songbirds, etc.) but are not qualified to work with birds of prey. So it is important that if the public finds an injured bird of prey (hawks, owls, eagles, falcons), they contact the right person. Right now, Warren has an active nest of peregrine falcons. Often, the little ones find themselves in trouble when they fledge the nest,” she said.

Calandrino said he would like to thank the Police Department for the proactive work to make sure the owl was safe.

“The Utica Police Department deserves a lot of credit for the rescue of the injured owl. They were able to gently and safely transport this majestic animal back to the Police Department, likely saving its life,” he said.

Contact Spirit Filled Wings Raptor Rehabilitation at (248) 953-5690 or visit spiritfilledwings.org to learn more about the birds living in the area.