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There’s some new wildlife spreading its wings at the summit of Grouse Mountain this summer. 

Three owls have migrated over from Ontario to join the mountain’s birds of prey. Joining the ranks are two Great Horned Owls, Toba and baby Mortimer, and barn owl Sylvan. The birds will be joining the site’s permanent resident barn owl, Tyto, who just overcame a battle with a near fatal fungal lung infection. 

“It looked so serious that we didn’t have much hope that he would survive actually,” said Grouse Mountain veterinarian Dr. Ken Macquisten. Tyto wasn’t eating, lost a lot of weight and had great difficulty breathing. “Even though we got the diagnosis we weren’t 100 per cent sure that he would respond still to the treatment,” said Macquisten. “It’s much more difficult to get rid of a fungal infection than a bacteria — fungal infections are very resistant to treatment.” 

Tyto was medicated for about four months and gradually got better each day and has since made a full recovery, so he’s thankfully back just in time to join the Birds in Motion demonstrations — happening three times daily at the mountain’s peak throughout the summer. 

“An awful lot of our visitors are from other countries and they want to see something locally and, of course, even if they came to see owls they wouldn’t get a chance because they come out at night,” Macquisten said of the nocturnal animals. “So this is a chance to get to see a little bit of local wildlife without spending too much time in the bush.” 

Macquisten and his staff are hoping the daily demonstrations will educate British Columbians on the protection and preservation of these animals — which includes not only owls but other raptors as well. 

The birds are very comfortable around people, so the audience is able to get close to the animals. “People get an up close and personal experience that they wouldn’t otherwise have any other way,” said Macquisten.