A Great Horned Owl is being nursed back to health by provincial rangers, a few weeks after it was discovered near death on a barge off Deer Island .

But why or how the nesting bird ended up a couple of hundred metres away from land remains a mystery.

Roy the Owl, as he's become known, was first spotted a couple of weeks ago by his namesake, Roy Bradford.

"Well, we went out to the barge and saw crows flying, swooping down at something, and when we got out close enough to the barge we could see that there was an owl, sitting out on the crane," said Bradford, who works for Cooke Aquaculture.


The owl was cold, wet and hungry when he was discovered on a barge a couple of weeks ago. (Courtesy of Cooke Aquaculture)

When Bradford left the barge, he expected the owl would fly off. But when he returned to the wharf area later that night for dinner, the owl was still there.

"So I said 'Well, I'll run up to the house and get a little dog crate I had.' And we brought it down and just put the dog crate up to it and I gave it a little tap and it went right in," he said.

Bradford says the owl was cold, wet and hungry, but he tried feeding the bird to no avail. So he called the Department of Natural Resources for help.

The owl has been on a steady diet of mackerel and squirrels at the department's office in St. George and is expected to make a full recovery.

"It definitely looks a lot healthier now than it did," Bradford said on Tuesday, when he was reunited with the bird.

"I’d say it must have been out hunting at night and the crows got after it and [the barge]

 was where it made it," he said.

"It's very strange that it wouldn’t have stayed in the woods instead of coming out."

Mary Sollow, a curator at the New Brunswick Museum, says the recent cold snap may have played a role in the owl ending up on the barge.

"They do have a varied diet so you know, they have lots of options available to them so perhaps it's that severe cold and snow that we've been having," she said.

DNR officials are waiting for warmer temperatures before releasing the owl back into the wild.