Southwest VA Wildlife Center caring for more birds this winter

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center is serving more animals this winter, and some of that may have to do with winter weather.

Animal Control says a great horned owl got lodged in the grille of a car in Roanoke this week, hitching a ride all the way to Petersburg. 

"I mean I was a little shocked, but it's another day in animal control. We deal with interesting situations quite often," said Jazmis Aponte, an animal control officer.

While the owl ended up in rehab near Richmond, plenty more birds are finding a haven at the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke. 

This black vulture has a new home. It's one of many birds the center is caring for this winter. From the vulture to owls to smaller songbirds, the center has been busy this season.

"We basically on average right now have a patient a day. Usually in the winter, we see maybe a few a month," said Sabrina Garvin, executive director of the wildlife center.

Wildlife center staff members say the number of animals they're bringing in every winter continues to grow. Most of those are birds that have been involved in some type of collision.

"They will come beside the road to hunt. As they're hunting, it's usually dark, 10 or later. If you're driving along and hear a thump on your car, you've probably had a collision with an owl," said Garvin. 

Garvin says salt along the roads during winter weather attracts rodents -- the perfect prey for birds in need of a meal. But flying near roadways can be dangerous.

According to Petersburg Animal Control, the owl is doing well. After a little more work on its eye, it should be released this weekend.

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