It is safe to say that those of the four legged variety are much more content in their natural habitat. Case in point: A quartet of barred owls have made their return to The Bay State, thanks to the assistance of a retired member of Massachusetts' Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Home. 81 year old Tom Ricardi remains active in a post he held for almost four decades. He is based in neighboring Conway which is situated in Franklin county, just east of the beautiful Berkshires and ironically these birds did not have far to go as they made an all important pit stop before their final journey took them to Deerfield.

Ed Park
Ed Park
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Tom has a knack of nursing these types of fine feathered friends back to health after they experienced certain setbacks as his mission continues to bring them to familiar surroundings. The Deerfield River was the scene a few weeks ago where this entourage was found malnourished and one owl also had a damaged wing which prevented him from flying up into the blue yonder.

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They were properly fed at The South Deerfield Veterinary Clinic as X-rays indicated the injured owl suffered a hairline fracture. Once the green light was given, they were all released to their familiar surroundings. The former environmental police officer also credits a local vet, Dr. Robert Schmitt for his efforts in nursing these raptors back to health as both are responsible for the well-being of over 165 owls, eagles, vultures and hawks.

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A pair of bald eagles have found permanent sanctuary as they cannot be released into the wilderness. Over 25 birds that were injured in vehicular collisions and suffered from malnutrition have also had a place to mend as this is Mr. Ricardi's way of "paying it forward" and he will keep going with no timetable to stop whatsoever. Now that's what I call "determination and dedication". Kudos to Tom Ricardi.

(Photo credit of Owl In The Dark courtesy of Jason Caterina's Facebook page)

LOOK: Stunning animal photos from around the world

From grazing Tibetan antelope to migrating monarch butterflies, these 50 photos of wildlife around the world capture the staggering grace of the animal kingdom. The forthcoming gallery runs sequentially from air to land to water, and focuses on birds, land mammals, aquatic life, and insects as they work in pairs or groups, or sometimes all on their own.