“Barbie, what are you looking at? Your tail is swooshing–you are crouched in that ‘something is interesting’ pose, but you’re not moving closer. Now I am curious, too. What the heck is that?”
Closer inspection revealed that “that” was an owl sitting in the yard. Sitting in the yard, not moving anything except warily turning its head, watching Barbie and I very carefully. The first thing was to put Barbie in the house, just in case she foolishly decided she was brave enough to take on an owl. The second thing was to approach the owl and see if I could startle it into moving at all. It was obviously hurt, but how hurt? Nothing. This isn’t good. Now what?
Then inspiration arrived. I remembered a recent article in the local newspaper about a licensed rehabilitation shelter for birds in the next town. However, sigh, details of the address or contact information had long been recycled.
The new hurdle was overcome by hurriedly calling the three local veterinarian’s offices until one of them had the phone number for the shelter. The clock is ticking. It’s close to 5:00 pm, shelter closing time, and although the days are getting longer, if this bird can be helped, the sooner it is moved to safety, the better. A night outside would be very dangerous. Raccoons, hawks, the occasional neighbor’s dog–any one could mean this story would end very badly.
Fortunately, the phone is answered by the woman who runs the shelter, but the adventure continues. She is quite concerned because of the uniqueness of the species involved, a Great Horned Owl. Ten minutes of detailed instructions later, the next phase begins–safely catching the owl and taking it to the rehab center. That involves a large box with lid, thick leather gloves and a big blanket to throw over the bird, safely trapping the bird in a way that did not hurt either one of us. Once committed, no backing out now.
Half-an-hour after that, owl safely ensconced in the box, we are on our way for the 20-minute ride to the shelter. Innocently, I had not thought past getting the bird to safety and had not brought extra money with me. Obviously, this shelter needs financial support. All I had on me was $25.00 cash. Gave her all my cash, and going forward have donated to the shelter periodically to make up the initial shortfall.
Calling a few days later to check on the diagnosis, x-rays showed that the owl’s wing was broken in multiple places. Speculation is that this owl was hit by a car as it flew across the road to the creek for water from its home in the woods behind the house. It took several months, but the wing did heal. Not well enough to be released into the wild, but well enough to join a state licensed traveling wild-life exhibition.
All-in-all, quite an adventure. At the end of that day, Barbie needed a nap and I needed dinner. Also felt good about my deed-of-the-day.