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Rescued owl still taking baby steps
'Jury still out' on chances he'll survive in wild
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff

Justice, a Great Horned Owl, was rescued from a window well outside the Third Street Courthouse in Geneva in April and continues to recover. Here she is pictured before surgery on his wing.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/8/2007 1:13 AM

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Four months after tumbling out of a nest at the Third Street Courthouse in Geneva, a baby great horned owl named Justice is still on the mend.

"The jury's still out," said Dawn Keller, director at the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, a private, not-for-profit animal center in Barrington, where the bird has been since late April.

Courthouse employees and county maintenance crews rescued the owl from a 7-foot deep window well on the west end of the building.

Justice had a broken humerus bone in his right wing, and doctors inserted a pin.

Keller said when a pin is inserted, it can shorten the length of a bird's wing and affect flight.

Rehabilitation officials are giving Justice a few more weeks of therapy before they release him in a 50-foot long outdoor flying chamber so he can test his wing.

"We're getting ready to put him in a flight chamber to see how he does," Keller said. "We're not sure whether he'll be able to fully adapt (to the wild). Our goal is always to release."

Keller said if her staff decides the bird can't survive in the wild, it will find a federally licensed facility for Justice to live.

In April, Keller estimated that the owl would be at the center for three to six months.

The center relies on private donations to help injured animals.

For more information, visit or call (847) 602-0628.

Back in April, courthouse Deputy Rick Franks heard noises coming from the window well and saw the baby owl inside.

The mother apparently was bringing it food because there were several animal carcasses at the well's bottom.

Franks, along with Judge Donald Fabian, lowered a board into the window well in hopes the owl would walk out, but to no avail.

Fabian also was concerned about the tree the owls nest in every year.

It apparently was stuck by lightning at least once during last month's torrential rains. A section of the trunk had a large gash in it about 20 to 25 feet long from the ground upward.

"If that tree comes down, we won't see the owls any more because they use the same place (to nest every year)," Fabian said. "Who knows?"