GARDINER — A couple of Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue’s “retired” barn owls help raise young owls in need.
During a new fundraising raffle this fall, North Olympic Peninsula residents can, too.
Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue and Wild Birds Unlimited in Gardiner are teaming up to auction off a barn owl box — along with two young owls who are ready to be released into the wild — this month.
The raffle began Sept. 23 and runs through Oct. 26, when a winner will be drawn at the Wild Birds Unlimited shop, 275953 U.S. Highway 101 during the business’ fifth-annual Owloween Celebration.
The celebration, set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include the Wild Bird Rescue organization’s “ambassadors,” which include barred, great horned, screech and other barn owls.
“It’s also a way to support us and the work we’re doing to save all the birds,” said Cynthia Daily, licensed wildlife rehabilitator and Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue’s director.
Raffle tickets are $10 each.
They are available at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue’s website at www.discoverybaywildbird rescue.com, or by contacting Wild Birds Unlimited at 360-797-7100, [email protected] or www.facebook.com/WildBirdsUnlimited GardinerWA.
Tickets also can be purchased through the mail (DBWBR Owl Box Raffle, PO Box 861, Port Townsend, WA 98368) or at Wild Birds Unlimited in Gardiner (checks payable to DBWBR).
Raffle entrants must be local residents with at least an acre of suitable open space habitat for a barn owl, with no use of rodenticide on the property.
The barn owl box and others available at Wild Birds were made by Port Angeles High School woodworking class students. Valued at $150 each, the additional boxes help raise money for the students, said Wild Birds co-owner Christie Lassen.
Habitat is key
So far this year, Daily said, Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue has received six young barn owls, including one from Seattle and another from Joyce.
A trio of barn owlets came to the rescue facility, Daily said, after some Peninsula residents noticed a owl nest tucked in a highway overpass in Sequim.
They monitored the situation, and after finding that both parents had been struck and killed by passing cars, they rescued the young owls, she said.
The owlets were put in an enclosure with surrogate barn owl parents, a pair who cannot be released into the wild. They took to the young owls as if they were their own, Daily said.
“The raptor instinct to take care of young ones is always there at the forefront; even if they’re not releasable, they still have the instinct to take care of a little one,” she said.
The two owls who will come with the raffle box have been moved from their surrogate parents’ enclosure to one where they are hunting live prey, Daily said, and they are ready to be released into the wild.
Daily said she was looking for a unique way to release her owlets.
“A lot of centers do a release but are not providing them with any help along the way; they’re just expecting them to find a new home,” she said. “That was sort of bothering me.”
Daily bought a barn owl box from Lassen and then thought, ‘What if I go ahead and put them out somewhere, so they already have an established place to be safe?’
“Why not make it a fun raffle experience and let people enjoy the experience of putting up the barn owl box and releasing them?” she said.
The raffle winners need some space — at least an acre — to make a good match for barn owl habitat.
Lassen said barn owls are being threatened by the loss of suitable habitat with the disappearance of open spaces and lack of old barns and buildings where they make their homes.
“So many of those old barns and structures are disappearing,” Daily said.
A bonus for raffle winners, she said, is that barn owls make good mousers.
“People get to watch them come and go,” Daily said.
“Hopefully they’ll have babies and use that home for some time.”
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].