Monday, July 23, 2012


The flutter and calamity of fresh wings, the speckled brown against the blue sky, and the lighthearted feeling of freedom in the hearts of everyone involved….

….these are all the familiar signs of another bird being successfully released into the wild by the World Bird Sanctuary. 

However, the World Bird Sanctuary is no stranger to success.  They released well over 600 Barn Owls between 1981 and 1986.  These release numbers have decreased since then, but there are still many releases.  Barn Owls are not the only birds of prey the World Bird Sanctuary has released; they have also released Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles hatched at the Sanctuary. 
 Jeanne Sinquefield and WBS Director Jeff Meshach inspect one of the young Barn Owls before release into her barn
When releasing baby birds into the wild we use a process called hacking.  With this process it’s important we keep the birds from becoming dependent on hand feeding.  We use a box, or in the case of Barn Owls a barn, that acts somewhat like a nest.  For a few days we leave the birds in their “box” and leave them food every day.  After about a week, we open a hole in the box (or barn) so the youngsters can come and go as they wish.  Some leave the “nest” and don’t come back, hopefully successful in their endeavors on their own, but we keep leaving food for them for a couple of days just in case they are unsuccessful and need to come back.  Eventually, they all leave the “nest”.

On May 17, Director Jeff Meshach and I drove out to Jeanne Sinquefield’s property near Jefferson City, Missouri to place four Barn Owls in Jeanne’s barn.  I watched as one by one the baby owls stared into their new environment before spreading their wings.
 WBS Director Jeff Meshach about to release another of the Barn Owls
Captive breeding being one of the ways that the World Bird Sanctuary helps preserve threatened species, I felt extremely lucky to be a part of such an amazing experience.  Three of the Barn Owls were hatched this year in March and one seemed to acclimate to being in the barn very quickly.  Jeanne will feed them for the next week and then open the barn, continuing to feed them until they have all left the “nest”. 

Barn Owls are very important to the ecosystem, especially in farming areas.  Their diets are mostly rodents, which are pests in the farming communities. 
 Two young Barn Owls inspecting their new world
If anyone would be interested in donating the use of their barn, and their time, in helping with Barn Owl releases please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Jeff Meshach at 636-861-3225. 

If you don’t have a barn, but would like to help sponsor the release of a beautiful raptor back into the wild, you could sponsor a rehabilitated bird release or adopt one of our resident birds as part of our Adopt A Bird program.

For more information about the many other programs and activities The World Bird Sanctuary has to offer go to our website’s Home Page.

Submitted by Kaitlin Conti, World Bird Sanctuary Intern

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic program and so important to the propogation of the species! Keep up the good work.