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  • Lezlie Sterling /

    Kim Franza holds a Great Horned Owl fledgling that she is caring for at her home in Grass Valley as a wildlife rehabilitator with Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release. The young owl was an orphan and will be kept with an adult owl until she is strong enough to be returned to the wild.

  • Lezlie Sterling /

    A young Great Horned Owl fledgling, left, and an adult female Great Horned Owl named Sasha, right, sit shoulder to shoulder in a mews at the home of Kim Franza, a wildlife rehabilitator with Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release in Grass Valley, May 8, 2014.

Exposures: I Care: Wildlife rescue nurtures owls

Published: Monday, May. 12, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Monday, May. 12, 2014 - 12:09 am

Wearing thick leather gloves, Kim Franza holds a great horned owl fledgling to be weighed. As a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in birds of prey, she wants to make sure the young orphan is thriving under the care of Sasha, an older owl who has taken the owlet under her wing. The juvenile raptor was picked up by volunteers with the Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release organization. It had fallen from a tree and wandered too far for rescuers to find its nest.

Sasha, the foster mom, was brought to Franza years ago after being hit by a car. Unable to fly again, she is being used as an education bird, visiting schools and acting as an ambassador for the organization at fundraising events. Over the years, she’s fostered many orphans, teaching them survival skills so they can be returned to the wild.

After weighing the young owl, Franza returns it to the birdhouse mew it shares with Sasha. The two sit shoulder to shoulder on a branchy perch, waiting for their next serving of mice.

“They’re such survivors,” Franza says. “The strength they have is amazing.”

Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release has a clinic in Penn Valley. For more information, go to

To suggest a community volunteer for the I Care column, contact Lezlie Sterling at


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Read more articles by Lezlie Sterling

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