South Langley resident Vanessa Van Keulen, 11, was one of several people who posed for selfies with Small Eyes, a Northern Spotted Owl, outside the Aldergrove Co-op on Sunday, Nov. 25. It was a fundraiser for the Langley-based program that aims to bring the species back from the edge of extinction. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Selfies with owl offers a close-up look at endangered species

Event a first for Spotted Owl Breeding Program in Langley

“Is it real?” a wide-eyed Taylor Auld asked.

She was leaving the Otter Coop store in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 25, with her mother when the 11-year-old from Abbotsford saw the owl on Jenna Kissel’s arm.

“Does she look real?” Kissel laughed.

Then, Small Eyes shifted slightly on Kissel’s arm, rotating her head 270 degrees to track the sound of Taylor’s voice.

“It was so still,” Taylor remarked.

For a donation of $5 to the Langley-based Spotted Owl Breeding program, the delighted Taylor was able to pose for a selfie with Small Eyes.

She was one of about 100 people who had their pictures taken with the 10-year-old owl and that, along with people who donated without having photos taken, raised about $800 for the program that aims to bring the rare owls back from the brink of extinction.

It was one of four fundraising events held by the non-profit breeding program over the weekend, which included two guided tours of the 25-acre breeding facility, and an appearance at an H.D. Stafford school Christmas market.

Donations from all events totalled $1,700, above the $1,500 target set for the whole holiday season, so the target has been raised to $2,500.

READ MORE: Special guest ‘Small Eyes’ revealed at northern spotted owl breeding program fundraiser

At the Co-op, Kissel, a wildlife technician with the program, explained Small Eyes got her name after she was born at the breeding centre and diagnosed with bilateral microphthamia, a developmental disorder where her eye are abnormally small.

She has also developed cataracts in both eyes.

“She can only see shadows and motion,” Jessel related.

Because Small Eyes can’t see well enough to bond with a male, she isn’t part of the breeding program.

If it wasn’t for her outings as an educational ambassador for the program, Small Eyes wouldn’t have much to occupy her time, volunteer Cathy Smith observed.

“She’s always in her aviary doing nothing,” Smith said.

Small Eyes is the only glove-trained Northern Spotted Owl in all of Canada.

For more than a decade, people at the centre have been trying to save the northern spotted owl from extinction by breeding them in captivity for eventual release back into the wild.

They are getting closer to their goal.

“We just had our most successful breeding season [this year],” Kissel told the Langley Advance Times.

“We had five babies this season, which is the most we’ve ever had.

READ MORE: Trio of endangered owls hatch at Langley breeding program

There are now six breeding pairs at the Langley aviary, which has a goal of producing 10 to 20 young each year that will be released into over 200,000 hectares of protected old-growth forest in the Pemberton area.

Financial support for the project has come from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, a partnership to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife between BC Hydro, the provincial government, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and other stakeholders.

Those who wish to volunteer with the Langley owl breeding program can email nsobreedingprogram@gmail.com.

There is also a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nsobreedingprogram.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Small Eyes was born in 2009 at the Northern Spotted owl Breeding Program in Langley. Because she suffers a developmental disorder where her eyes are abnormally small, she has impaired vision. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Jenna Kissel, a wildlife technician with the Northern Spotted owl Breeding Program in Langley, was at the Otter Co-op in Aldergrove with Small Eyes on Sunday, Nov. 24.(Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

For a donation of $5, people could have their picture taken with Small Eyes at the Aldergrove Co-op on Sunday, Nov. 24. Small Eyes was born in 2009 at the Northern Spotted owl Breeding Program in Langley and suffers from a developmental disorder where her eyes are abnormally small, causing impaired vision. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Signs at a new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
More than 200 new COVID-19 cases linked to Fraser Health region: Dr. Henry

Provincial health officer appeals to people to keep gatherings small

Adrian Dix was flanked by Langley East NDP candidate Megan Dykeman (left) and Langley NDP candidate Andrew Mercier (right) during a Thursday morning campaign stop near Langley Memorial Hospital. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
NDP’s Dix makes campaign stop in Langley to talk health

The latest visit by a high-profile NDP candidate comes close to election day

Elections BC has sent out almost 700,000 mail voting packages as of Oct. 14 with just under 3.5 million registered voters. (Black Press Media File)
Advance poll turnout up, thousands of mail ballots await counting

More than a third of all votes have likely been cast already

SKY Helicopters in Pitt Meadows, run by Langley’s Andrew Westlund, has been recognized globally among travellers for its aviation-based adventure and sightseeing experiences. (SKY Helicopters/Special to Black Press Media)
Pitt Meadows helicopter company lauded by adventure seekers

Langley enterepreneur Andrew Westlund relishes recognition from travellers for SKY Helicopters

Lauren Trotzuk reads ‘Seasons for Stones’ by local author Nikki Bergstresser through a new Langley Arts Council story series. (Screenshot)
VIDEO: Children’s stories read aloud through new Langley Arts Council series

A new video, hosted by Lauren Trotzuk, gets published every Wednesday on YouTube

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Most Read