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Baby barn owls saved after being discovered on old Port Mann Bridge

Oct 23. 14

By John Colebourn, The Province

Barn owls, it seems, don’t have to cough up a toll fee to use the Port Mann Bridge.

Three baby barn owls were found on a section of the old Port Mann Bridge that is being ripped apart and stored at a site about a kilometre away.

It appears they were taken for a ride while the parents were out getting some food along the Fraser River. A construction worker noticed the confused trio and took them to the Burnaby-based Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.

“They can’t fly and were still being fed by their parents,” said Yolanda Brooks of the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.

“We kept them overnight. They were pretty cold and in rough shape.”

On Wednesday, the birds were taken to the O.W.L. Orphan Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta.

Mindy Dick, a bird care specialist at O.W.L., said they will be able to nurse the babies back to health.

She said they will be at the shelter, which is exclusively for birds of prey, for about two months and then will be released back into the wild.

Despite being small, the three are still big eaters, she said.

“They can eat 15 to 20 mice per day,” she said.

It is not uncommon to find bird nests built under bridges, she notes. And Dick said the owls can travel a long way in a night of hunting down food.

”Some barn owls have been studied at the Oak Street Bridge and they can go all the way to UBC (University of British Columbia) and back,” she said.

Greg Johnson, a spokesman for T.I. Corp., which is in charge of the tolling the new Port Mann Bridge, said they have an environmental team constantly checking for miscreant birds trying to get free room and board.

“We are happy the workers spotted them,” Johnson said.

He isn’t looking for an address to send them a toll bill or a transponder for future use.

“There is no toll for owls,” he said.

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