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Bald eagle, owl recover at Michigan wildlife center

Brad Devereaux
Saginaw News

Shepherd — One says “hoot” and the other is a symbol that says “America.”

If the two birds of prey could speak, they probably would say a big “thank you” to Barb Rogers.

Rogers, who rehabilitates injured raptors, has bottle-fed an injured bald eagle as it regains strength and has treated an owl in intensive care.

Both were injured in recent collisions with vehicles and are now staying at Wildlife Recovery Association, near Shepherd, where Rogers is nursing the large birds back to health.

The bald eagle, dubbed M-20 Al, was found after likely being hit by a car July 8 on M-20, west of Mount Pleasant.

A barred owl now named Oscar was found with a concussion after police were called Oct. 31 to Midland for a report of “an owl who hit a car window,” police said.

The two raptors, while recovering under the same roof, are kept in separate cages for good reason, she said.

“Even different species of owls can hurt each other if one is larger, more territorial,” she said. “Even same species are often housed separately, especially when they first come in, and one may have a more serious injury than another.”

The owl is not nearly as critical a case as the eagle, Rogers said.

The eagle can now grasp a little with its injured talon, Rogers said. Eagles use their grasping talons to perch and to grab prey, she said, and they need to be strong for flight.

“It’s been a really slow recovery,” she said.

The eagle has moved on from a bottle-fed formula and is now eating fish Rogers feeds it, she said.

The eagle’s wings are fine, she said, and she hopes his fragile recovery goes well and he can fly again. The eagle gets physical therapy to encourage the grasping ability and to be sure that he continues to flex his toes.

Oscar, the barred owl, is in “intensive care” indoors in a quiet location, Rogers said. After the bird spent about a week at the facility, Rogers said he ruffled his feathers and turned his head.

“Until just now, he has looked pretty rough, with his eyes closed and very little movement,” she said Nov. 6. “Looking better already.”

The owl eats mice, “very small ones, at this time, with all the large bones removed,” she said.

She dips them in water to help with swallowing, as the owl has a sore throat, she said.

“He doesn’t want to eat, because it hurts to swallow,” she said. “He is also bruised on the foot, and does not always use one of his legs, but he is improving.”

Rogers and her husband, Joe, run Wildlife Recovery Association out of their rural Isabella County home.

Rogers has hopes of happy endings for both injured birds that have drawn media attention.

On Oct. 1, the husband and wife released another eagle injured about 6 months earlier that they helped to recover.

Rogers hopes Oscar and M-20 Al will be out of her home and in the sky again soon.