Kindergarteners from PS 173 in Fresh Meadows got an added treat when they visited Alley Pond Environmental Center last week, witnessing the release of a rehabilitated Eastern screech owl.
The nature center in Douglaston was selected for the release by Central Veterinary Associates in Bayside, whose staff nursed the little critter back to health.
The owl — named Athena by the vets —was found off Douglaston Parkway and Northern Boulevard on Jan. 23, believed to have been hit by a car. She was brought to the veterinary clinic and diagnosed with head trauma.
Athena was treated for more than two weeks, the vets deciding to release her when they determined she could eat on her own.
“There were plenty of ooohs and aaahs when the bird flew off,” said Aline Euler, education director at APEC. “She looked much bigger in flight because of the size of her wingspan.”
The children had been at APEC for a class, which ended with the outdoor release. “The owl landed about 80 feet away and it was hard to see her after that,” Euler said. “We’re hoping she found a new place to nest.”
Eastern screech owls are one of the smallest species of owls and are found in both rural and urban areas. They are known for their piercing call, unlike the hooting of other owls.
CVA is the veterinary service for APEC and donates its services so that youngsters can learn about and enjoy the wildlife there. “Children love to experience a variety of animals, even if they can’t have pets,” said Dr. John Charos, director of exotics for CVA.