Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great Horned Owl

Before I get to my final post about my Pine Ridge trip, which I am still working on, I thought I'd share today's adventure.

As I was getting ready for church this morning, we got a call from The Raptor Center about an owl tangled in a soccer net.  I went to pick him up and found him at a private residence in their backyard, thoroughly entangled in a little soccer net.  There were two families gathered around and one of the mom's was trying to cut away the tangle from a distance. 

They seemed amazed that I dug right into the bird's feathers to get to the string, but having no experience with raptors they are not faulted at all for their efforts. 

As I said, he was pretty well tangled, and had some superficial wounds on his shoulders and neck from where the string had dug in.

After I got him out, I took him home and showed him to my own kiddos so they could see a Great Horned Owl up close.  The Boyo took some pictures with my camera, and both of them were awed by the size of the great bird.

Heck, I was awed by his size, too.  Here's some pics...

One other thing that was amazing.  As I was working him loose from the string, using my fingers and scissors, the bird stayed still and calm. Even as I worked around his head, he never once nipped at my bare fingers. I usually wear thick welder gloves on rescues, but I had to get to the string, and the gloves were too thick.  I did have one of the mom's assist me by wearing the gloves and holding the legs just above the strong feet and talons. I think he knew I was there to help.  As I worked to free him he didn't nip or foot me once. 

This changed once I had him in the transport box.  As I showed him to the kids and got him into a bigger, more comfortable transport box, he footed me a few times - thank goodness for the welders gloves!  It was like having my finger in a vise. Amazingly powerful.  If I had not been wearing the gloves, I'm certain the talons would have gone right to the bone.

I took him up to the Raptor Center and dropped him off.  The initial exam verified my on scene exam.  Superficial skin wounds and no obvious broken bones.  They were X-raying him as I left, and I'll know more in the next day or two whether he will heal enough to be released, or at least enough to be an education bird.  Most of the birds I've taken up have been too sick or injured to save, so I'm very hopeful that this one will survive.

As I drove home, I wondered what the Lakota think about owls.  As it was, I had on my Mitakuye Oyasin bracelet from Re-Member.  It means We are all related. So I wished my owl brother a speedy recovery and sent up a quick prayer in case anybody was listening to my thoughts.

He's a magnificent bird.

More Later

1 comment:

Grammy said...

WOW!! Amazing pictures. That is one lucky bird. Do hope he makes a full recovery. Let us know?