Cage helps birds of prey regain their freedom

Invermere Veterinary Hospital will open flight cage to visitors for Wings over Rockies festival 2018

The Invermere Veterinary Hospital released more than 55 birds of prey back into the wild over the past seven years after nursing their injuries and rehabilitating them in a custom-designed flight cage.

Another injured bird – a big bald eagle – will likely be moving to the cage soon. The eagle suffered three broken bones – two in her wing and one in her leg. The eagle had surgery and is being nursed back to health at the veterinary hospital. She was scheduled for an X-ray the same day the Pioneer interviewed veterinary technician Judy Ellison.

Conservation officers and clinics as far away as Cranbrook bring birds to Invermere for care. Not all veterinary doctors can perform surgeries on birds, and Dr. Mark Zehnder is exceptionally talented, Ms. Ellison said.

Typically when birds require surgery, they need to be confined for up to six weeks while their bones heal. Then the birds are moved to the raptor flight cage, where they build muscle strength, flying strength and work on their cardio, Ms. Ellison said.

Bald eagles and golden eagles need a big space to fly, and the raptor flight cage on Ms. Ellison’s property offers plenty of room to accommodate a variety of birds as they recover. The space, which is 20 feet wide, 20 feet high and 100 feet long, has been a temporary home for eagles, owls and hawks as well as ducks, pigeons and crows.

“It’s a really great feeling to release a bird and watch it fly away,” Ms. Ellison said. “It’s super satisfying.”

Volunteers and donors built the raptor flight cage, and donors keep the Invermere Veterinary Hospital’s bird rescue program running. Ms. Ellison estimated that the program costs $7,000, including medical care.

In addition to helping birds, the cage was used to rehabilitate a baby elk and a young cougar.

During Wings Over The Rockies, the cage will also accommodate visitors.

While the cage is typically a secluded and quiet resting place for recovering birds, Ms. Ellison will be offering a tour during the annual Wings Over The Rockies festival. Visitors are invited to tour the flight cage during an open house on Toby Benches from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 12th.

Depending on how quickly the bald eagle with the broken bones recovers, she may be swooping around during the tour. There is a $10 cost for the open house. Parking is limited so visitors are encouraged to carpool.

Wings Over The Rockies runs from May 7th to 13th.

For more information about the festival and its events, visit www.wingsovertherockies.org.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Highway 3A reopened after mudslide cleared

A mudslide closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam on Wednesday.

Environmental fund celebrates a decade of successes

Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund to continue on indefinitely

Big ideas for small spaces

Canal Flats deliberating new zone for small lot residential

Weekly RCMP Report

A look back at some of the more unusual calls for RCMP this week

Columbia Valley municipalities sign on to RDEK planning agreement

Five year contracts guarantee municipalities a vote on rural planning matters

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

Wartime Wednesdays

Local author Elinor Florence explores the stories of veterans

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Most Read