CNN PRODUCER NOTE CWRC is co-founder of the non-profit by the same name and wanted to share this compelling video: 'The owl was rehabilitated at our center. It arrived at our center in July, emaciated, dehydrated, favoring a wing and had a broken leg that was already starting to heal. It was given primary medical care, x-rays, fluids, pain management etc. to stabilize it so that it was no longer in imminent danger of dying. Once it was stabilized it was then provided nutrition along with ongoing management of its injuries within a restricted enclosure.
After a few weeks of this it was strong enough for a larger space where it could begin to regain its mobility and flight conditioning. After a few weeks of this it was given a larger space where we could monitor how well it could fly, maneuver and perch. Once an animal reaches this point and we are confident it is capable of being returned to the wild we then choose a day that is favorable weather-wise for release.
For this owl that day was Sunday, September the 22nd. The weather was mild, not too windy and no forecast of precipitation. We captured the owl in the enclosure you saw in the video and transported it to the release site that was close to the location it was found. Mature owls and other large raptors are territorial so their best chance of survival is to be returned to their territory unless there is a reason not to do so.
It was early evening, about a hour before sunset. It was dusk and overcast. Owls are nocturnal so this time of day they are becoming more active and alert. Once we decide upon a spot we take the carrier with the bird to a quiet spot with suitable terrain. This is usually an open field with trees nearby away from major roads.
As these are wild animals we minimize their interaction with humans as much as possible. When we release an animal we will usually only do it with ourselves present and sometimes with the person who originally found the animal if they are able and want to come. The less stress for the animal the better.
In most cases we will tip the box over very gently until it is on its side before opening it up. This has been in our experience the best way to release most of the large raptors. It gives them a moment to collect their bearings before committing to flight. With this owl it was quite agitated in captivity and in the box so we decided to lift it out as seen in the video. It wasted no time in getting away once it realized it was no longer in an enclosed space.
It flew confidently directly for a line of tall evergreens and perched about half way up one of them so that it could survey it's surroundings at a safe distance from us. Once it did that it took off into the woods and disappeared from our sight.'
- hhanks, CNN iReport producer