Skip to content

Rehabbed owls have rapt audience for Lake Greenwood release

Photos Judith Brown

Cross Hill, S.C. – Three young barred owls were released last weekend near the shores of Lake Greenwood, much to the pleasure of an audience of a couple dozen people as they landed nearby and provided a lengthy photo shoot.
It was the first public release of rehabbed birds since the Covid-19 pandemic, and PAWS founder Mercedes Curry, found a volunteer near the lake willing to host the release at his home, which provided the combination of nearby heavy woods, tall trees and water sources.
The release of these young owls differed from typical PAWS releases where a single adult bird will be taken back to its familiar area, Curry said.
“These were all turned in by different people from different places, and as they grew up we put them together since they were at the same stage and going through things at the same time,” Curry said. “They are now adopted siblings to each other.”
As young owls are growing up, Curry said, they reach the stage where they are seeking their own places to live but that can be hard for young birds.
“This way, they can stay together and have a little friend nearby until they are ready to set off on their own,” Curry said. “And, sometimes, our little ones find love while in rehab and we would not want to break up a set if that has happened.”
The release location host, Scott Harris of Cross Hill, is a board member for the Carolina Raptor Center and has occasionally done volunteer work for PAWS.
Harris jumped at the chance to host the release, inviting his neighbors and friends from across the Upstate. Shannon Trawick and Kenny Clark, both of Greenville, and Harris’ wife, Randi, donned the large leather gloves and, after needed advice from Curry, released the juvenile owls together.
Even Curry was surprised when, instead of heading straight toward the nearby tall trees, all three landed on Harris’ monument-style front yard signage and shared the spotlight as onlookers took advantage of the opportunity to photograph their light color markings which give the barred owls their name.
The first to fly away went to a large sweet gum tree a couple of lots over and soon after another flew to the top of an oak at the property’s edge. But the youngest stayed put for a couple of hours, Harris told Curry, leaving only after one of the other owls returned to sit with it for awhile.
Since the role of PAWS is to safely rehab birds for the wild, Curry explained she doesn’t name the birds nor does she tag them. But this was the perfect situation to keep these young owls together.
“When they were wild-raised together, the siblings stay together for a little while and eventually they’ll wander off and do other things. And we think there aren’t a lot of other owls here because we don’t want them, right out of the gate, to be in competition with a heavily populated area,” Curry said. “So when selecting a release spot, I’m a little picky about the trees and coverage and how much food will be available, and that’s why we selected this spot.”
Once they feel confident enough to find their own home spot, she said, the owls will typically remain and travel in their own one mile area.
As a non-profit the certified rehab facility outside of Laurens depends on volunteers and donations from those who believe in their work. Curry has been rehabbing wild animals and birds since 2003, and because she’s certified by the state, she is often called on for assistance when the Department of Natural Resources is alerted to birds or animals in need.
Among her work is education, and helping the public understand that most of the time, young wild animals don’t need to be rescued, and to get training before attempting to rescue animals.
For more information on volunteering or donating to the work, see the Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. Facebook page, the website,, or call 864-715-2171.

Feature photo Scott Harris.

Story originally published Page 1, in the Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023 issue of the Laurens County Advertiser.

Leave a Comment