BEULAH, Mich. (WOOD) — After more than a month of recovery, one barred owl is ready to take spread its wings and learn to fly again.

On Friday, the North Sky Raptor Sanctuary in Interlochen will be releasing the owl back into the wild. The bird is named Ben, a name she was given before rescuers learned she was female.

Ben was rescued by the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department on Dec. 5 after she was apparently hit by a car.

“Injuries are consistent with being struck by a car: bruising all on one side, a left eye contusion and a concussion but thankfully no fractures. It was a bit of a road to get (her) to where (s)he is today but (s)he is ready to be released,” North Sky Executive Director and Co-Founder Kaitlyn Bohnet told News 8 Thursday. “(S)he passed all of (her) tests, (her) flight conditioning. And so tomorrow, I’m hoping that we have a pretty decent crowd to send (her) off in style.”

Ben’s recovery was not guaranteed despite the lack of fractures. Bohnet said roughly 70% of animals nationwide that are put into rehab clinics do not make it out alive.

“Any time that we have a success is definitely something to be celebrated,” she said.

An undated courtesy photo of North Sky Raptor Sanctuary Executive Director and Co-Founder Kaitlyn Bohnet.
An undated courtesy photo of North Sky Raptor Sanctuary Executive Director and Co-Founder Kaitlyn Bohnet.

In 2022 alone, North Sky has taken in roughly 23 barred owls in hopes of bringing them back to health. It can a strain on the nonprofit, as all of its funds come through donations of supporters.

“Any support that the community offers us, it just means we can do more for these animals. And we’ve been very fortunate since 2018, so we just hope to keep the ball going in that direction,” Bohnet said.

Even with the obstacles, knowing she played a role in Ben’s recovery makes it all worth it for Bohnet.

“It is always an emotional moment. It never gets old seeing them take the skies,” she said.

You can watch Ben take flight from Coastal Inn Beulah at 5 p.m. Friday. If you are unable to attend in person, North Sky said it will be releasing video and photos of the event on its Facebook page.

*Correction: A previous version of this article included a photo caption that incorrectly labeled another bird as Ben. We have updated the caption. We regret the error, which has been fixed.