The Owl Foundation is the only facility of its kind in North America
to both breed and foster wild owls to release status. Most owls
are released in spring or autumn as these seasons are natural dispersal
and migration times for birds.
are usually released as close as possible to where they were originally
recovered. This is most important for adults, who had a territory
and possible mate at their found location. Sadly, when an owl requires
a lengthy stay at any facility, its territory lies vacant and therefore
available to other wild individuals. For juvenile and sub-adult
owls, release into the original location is not quite as important.
This is because most owl species have a dispersal range (sometimes
of several hundred kilometres) from the parental territory. In this
case, it is more important to provide them with suitable, stable
habitats where they can continue to hone their hunting skills as
they begin to move on. Where the site of original recovery is of
high risk to the individual (e.g. 400-series highway), a safe, suitable
release site is found in the greater area.
Captive bred owls are raised with their parents in wild-type environments
with minimal human contact. These birds are wild in nature and begin
establishing their hunting skills as fledglings. When dispersal
time arrives (usually September), the juveniles are moved to release
training cages where they begin live prey training in earnest.
Captive bred owls are usually released where the mother originated
in order to introduce what were naturally occuring genes back into
the region of origin. Juveniles can then disperse as they would
have naturally. Snowy Owls and Northern Hawk Owls show nomadic behaviour
outside breeding season. Northern Saw-whets are migratory. Great
Greys will display nomadic-type behaviour when prey numbers are
low. Release methods differ for these species as a result and are
modified to provide the highest potential for success into the wild.