Free bird

An owl that Linda and Jim Latham rescued in December was released March 4 after successful recovery.

When Linda Latham discovered an owl lying unmoving in last year’s Christmas snow, she didn’t know if it was going to survive.

Linda and her husband, Jim, weren’t sure how to respond when they found the feathered creature outside their North Whidbey home on Dec. 27, 2021.

“I got close enough to identify what it was, and it turned its head and looked right at me with those gorgeous eyes!” Linda wrote in an email. “I knew immediately I was looking at an injured great horned owl and had no idea who to call for help.”

Though Linda said its initial prognosis was grim, the owl they fondly dubbed “Scooter” has since recovered and been returned to its habitat.

A passing neighbor helped the Lathams move the motionless owl into a box, which they covered with a towel and brought inside so Scooter could get warm. Linda got in contact with an Anacortes resident who volunteers to transport animals for Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Friday Harbor.

“If we could drive it to their home, they would take it via ferry for treatment as soon as possible,” Linda wrote. “Well, we got it there, but the volunteer didn’t think it would survive the night.”

The Lathams kept track of Scooter’s status on the rehabilitation center’s website. The owl was emaciated and had sustained some soft tissue damage that would take a long time to heal, but its x-rays showed no broken bones. The center reported the cause of injury was unknown.

Scooter was put on a feeding tube and remained in the center’s care for over two months, steadily graduating to larger cages and regaining the ability to feed itself as it recovered.

“There is an awesome staff there and I was assured there was no time limit for its stay as long as the creature made progress,” Linda wrote.

On March 4, the center returned Scooter to the Lathams’ home for release. It was a sunny day, and Scooter flew away to the sound of the Lathams’ cheers.