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Flathead owl to be released back into the wild

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Feb 20 2014 06:05:24 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 20 2014 06:17:24 PM MST
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Friday will prove the point that dedication and determination can solve a lot of things, including one bird's rotten start to the New Year.

On New Year’s Day, volunteers knew a great horned owl had seen better days. She had a severe concussion and head injury. She couldn't stand up straight, she couldn't feed. A car had hit her.  

A sheriff's deputy took her from the area near Creston, 10 miles southeast of Kalispell.

”We took care of her in a critical care manner for 21 days and then brought her out here," said Kari Gabriel.

It made all the difference.

Gabriel works for a nonprofit group that help nurse birds back to full health to be released back into the wild.

The owl is special, but not alone.

"We are currently working with a mature bald eagle that we hope to release.  We'll know more on that by the end of the week.  We've got, I think, 9 or 10 owls, all different species.  We've got a couple of falcons and then 3 or 4 hawks as well,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel is a volunteer for the Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center in Kalispell. She says working for the organization is part of her passion for helping birds. Releasing them back into the wild is her favorite part of the process.

"We love it when we get to release a bird.  We'll have several volunteers there tomorrow.  They've all been working since January so everybody's had a hand in her recovery, and to watch them get released kind of closes the loop, so to speak, for everybody in that process, so it will be great,” said Gabriel.

Gabriel says that the goal for all the birds they bring in is to get them back out into the wild, something she's looking forward to seeing with this great horned owl on Friday.