A Heart-warming Wildlife Rescue
Seldom do I respond to a call for assistance for “wildlife in need” where I am warmed in the soul, almost to the point of becoming teary-eyed. Let me explain.
Tonight our county dispatch center received a call from a caring reporting party advising of an owl caught in a soccer net at the Denver Soccer Complex. Chief Everding from the Denver Police Department responded and quickly recognized the owl was large and stressed. He then asked the soccer teams if they could practice down the field from where the owl was trapped. Thankfully, the teams and coach moved their practice to minimize the anxiety on the bird. I was notified and advised I was available to help, if needed. Chief Everding knew untangling this bird would not be a “one person job” and asked that I respond.
Once on the scene, Chief Everding, the soccer coach (I am so sorry, I did not learn his name), and I worked for many long minutes to free the owl from the net. It appeared the owl became caught and did one or more rotations that wrapped netting around its body, wings, legs, and neck. In one spot under a wing there was some bleeding. Based on the feathers spread out on the ground, it was obvious the owl had struggled for some time to no avail.
Slowly and deliberately the three of us gently worked to free the owl. Eventually we determined that by making one cut in the net, we would be able to unwrap or unthread the rest of the net and free the owl. With a quick cut the process was completed and we had the owl free of any restrictive netting. We placed the owl on the ground hoping it would fly, but that did not happen. The bird was probably exhausted from its struggle. We provided freedom a second time and the owl did not fly, so it was determined I would take the bird to Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project.
For those wondering, this owl – though exhausted – was plenty spunky an exhibited a very determined attitude. We are thankful for leather gloves. They made a difference several times!
You might wonder how this became a somewhat emotional experience. After we freed the bird, we held it up to examine it for injuries. From across the soccer field we heard young voices cheering and young athlete hands clapping after our positive outcome. The owl was freed from the net! It was heartwarming that so many young people were watching our work while practicing (and we did not know it) and then recognized a good outcome when it happened. I am serious, I almost became teary-eyed. We were doing something for one wild bird. The kids saw and acknowledged the effort and success. How nice is that!
Since this great horned owl incident occurred where Denver Cyclone athletes practice, perhaps we should name it Cy!
I want to thank the reporting party, the coach, Chief Everding, Bremer County Dispatchers, and the soccer teams for a good experience (Parents – You should be proud of your young people!). Special thanks to Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project for the work they will now dedicate to this owl. Thanks too to Dr. Lori who will examine the owl. If you wish to be a part of this rescue, consider a donation to Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project. All of their work is done on a volunteer basis. Any support would be appreciated. (I am not a wildlife rehabber. I just recognize their efforts are not without cost.)
Following are a few images recorded at this rescue.