Last Friday my wife, Laurel, and I attended a Wings and Wine event at Cubanisimo Vineyards in West Salem.
The main focus of the "wings" part was the release of a Great Horned Owl that had finished its rehabilitation and was ready to be returned to the wild by the folks at the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis.
Join us for a memorable and unique opportunity to witness the remarkable journey of a rehabilitated Great Horned Owl as it takes flight and returns to the wild! This patient arrived at our center from West Salem, orphaned, hungry, and in need of help. We were unable to reunite this nestling owlet with its parents, so the journey of raising them to be wild began! Want to learn how we accomplished this patient’s successful rehabilitation story? On Friday, June 23rd at Cubanisimo Vineyards, 1754 Best Rd NW, Salem, OR 97304, you and your family can witness his return and learn how from 5:30 – 8:30 PM.
Before I share photos of the release of the owl, here's some photos I took prior to the release when Chintimini staff showed off a couple of falcons and answered questions about the birds and their care.
I can't remember the name of this little falcon, so let's just call it Little Falcon. However, when it opened up its wings, it looked a lot more falcon'y.
The other falcon brought to the event was a peregrine falcon. It was much larger than Little Falcon. Wikipedia says that peregrines can achieve speeds over 200 mph when they dive, making them the fastest animal on earth. Its talons were scary looking. I asked if it needed to have them clipped. The answer was yes, since while a falcon is being rehabilitated, it isn't landing on rocks and such that keep talons shorter in the wild.
After drinking wine and admiring the falcons, it was time for the release of the Great Horned Owl. Since the orphaned owlet had come from West Salem, we were told that it was appropriate to release it in West Salem.
The owl had been put in a large cage as it grew up, which enabled it to fly around and practice hunting skills. Nonetheless, a Chintimini staff member said that it was impossible to predict what would happen when its cage was opened, as sometimes a bird will just sit there rather than fly off.
Us viewers of the owl release were given one task to do: stay silent. No talking before the release. No cheering after the release. The Great Horned Owl didn't need any distractions. Here we all are waiting expectantly.
The staff didn't need to worry about the owl remaining in its cage. It flew off like a rocket as soon as the door of the container was opened. You'll have to imagine a Great Horned Owl in rapid flight, as my iPhone 14 and my reflexes were utterly incapable of capturing the moment.
Since there were so many avid bird watchers at the event, that explained the impressive cameras I saw some people carrying. Perhaps an expert photographer caught the owl in flight.
Here's where the Great Horned Owl headed off to so quickly, one of the tall fir trees adjacent to the vineyard. Interestingly, as soon as the owl landed in the trees, a blackbird flew from the vineyard to the owl's location. I recall that staff said blackbirds are territorial. But since the owl is much larger than a blackbird, it wasn't going to feel threatened.