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Animal shelter: ‘Please give baby owls some space’

The public’s fascination with two baby owls rescued in Southold is stressing out the mama owl, according to the North Fork Animal Welfare League — and curious onlookers are asked to please, back off.

“Please give them their space so Mom can do her job,” said Gabby Stroup, manager of the NFAWL. “Please respect their space.”

According to Stroup, the NFAWL received a call on March 19 from local realtor Sandra DeRose of Century 21/Albertson Realty, explaining there was a baby owl on the ground in Southold “in distress”.

Both NFAWL Director Gillian Wood Pultz and Karen Stephenson headed out to the rescue; the baby owl was brought to the North Fork Animal Hospital, Stroup said, “where it was determined to be uninjured.”

Pultz then called Ginny Frati of the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, who said the baby was a great horned owl.

“She asked that they make him a nest, and then, the mom would still feed him,” Stroup said.

Pultz and Stephenson created the nest out of a basket and then, four days later, another realtor with the same firm, Joe DiVello, was back at the property and found a second owl, as well as the first baby — both had fallen and were on the ground.

“Now I’m looking at two baby owls,” he said. At first he thought it was two additional owls, he said, but “actually it ended up being one, who may have left the nest to go looking for the other baby.”

After posting a photo on his Facebook page, “falconers came out of woodwork” urging him to go back and help, DiVello said. The next day, he returned and placed both babies back in the nest.

The experience taught DiVello a great deal; he learned that baby owls go through a “branching stage,” during which they hop out of the nest and onto the branches. But the two babies he found, he said,were too young to fly. “When I put them back in the nest, they stayed there,” he said.

The rescue has piqued the interest of curious onlookers who are flocking to see the owl babies. SoutholdLOCAL was asked not to print the address or street where the owls are located, to discourage further visitors to the next.

“We are now getting calls from neighbors that people are going by to see them non-stop, climbing up the ladder and stressing the mom,” Stroup said.

DiVello added that the nest is on private property and the owners do not want “strangers on their front lawn.”

Saving the owls, DiVello said, was rewarding. “It makes me happy to know that their mother is tending to them,” he said.