The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Midd-West Region

February 25, 2013

Midd-West Moment: Wildlife makes itself at home


And despite an impending snow storm that night and an ice-covered driveway he was trying to tackle, Mr. Dupuy dropped everything and came to the rescue. He removed the 5.1-ounce (not even a third of a pound) female screech owl and planned to take her back to his spread for medical attention. But he didn’t stop there. He took the time to talk with my wife and 6-year-old daughter about owls. He let my daughter pet the owl. He took pictures and videos and even played the screech owl’s signature horse-whinny-like call from off his iPhone so my daughter knew what they sounded like.

It was apparent that Mr. Dupuy wasn’t just an animal rescuer, but also a people educator.

An owl encyclopedia

On Saturday, during a nearly hour-long phone conversation with me about our rescued owl friend, Dupuy rattled off more information about owls, hawks and other birds of prey than one could cram into a whole encyclopedia of Peterson Field Guides.

For example, the Eastern Screech Owl is the third smallest owl known, just bigger than the pygmy and saw-whet owls. Female screech owls are typically bigger than males, which is how Dupuy determined our flue-flyer was a she. The screech owl is in the same family as the great horned owl, but different than the barn owl. Typically, the screech owl is a gentle bird, trying so hard to blend into its enviroment, such as a tree limb, that people have been known to walk right up to them in the wild.

Screech owls are also cavity dwellers — they typically nest in dead trees. This is why Dupuy strongly suggests that if you harvest a lot of firewood on your property, it is a good idea to install a few screech owl nesting boxes about 12 to 15 feet off the ground so the owls have an alternative when their typical homes are chopped down.

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