Ever had one of THOSE days, feeling ragged and beat down by the end? Evidently that’s the kind of day this little guy had:
Late the other night on our way home there was something in the road that we had to swerve to keep from hitting. What? Was that a baby owl????
Surely not, I thought. Now, we live WAY out in the country, so seeing animals in the road is not unusual. In fact at any time of day you might see horses, cows, deer, hawks, vultures, skunks, coyotes, snakes, racoons, oppossum or any myriad of other animals in the road. Also being in a wooded area in the country we hear owls at night all the time, hooting back and forth to each other. But a baby owl in the road was a first.
When I got out of the car to see if it was alive the poor thing was just sitting in the road looking like he’d had a terribly rough day. Still having downy feathers was a sign that he probably shouldn’t have been out of his nest by himself, let alone sitting in the middle of the road! When I got out of the car, I had planned on just moving him off of the side of the road into the treeline next to it, but when I went to move him it was clear that one wing was injured and he had an eye not fully opening and he was so tired he didn’t even care that I picked him up.
Well, owls are protected here, so imagine my husband’s surprise and dismay when I hopped back into the car with this baby owl in my hands. But he was injured. I couldn’t just leave him there to get hit by a car or become somebody’s midnight snack!
Owl Fact: Did you know that owls use their talons to crush the head of their prey and that even baby owls have incredibly strong talons that can pierce right thru skin? Did you know that they have an amazing grip with those talons and that once they grip onto something it’s very difficult to get them to let go? Just sayin’….um…where’s the antibiotic cream and bandaids?…ow….
Once we got home we looked up how to care for baby owls and got him settled down and all comfy in a towel-lined box for the night. We looked up the nearest “birds of prey rescue” to contact in the morning. Once settled in he was quiet from being so exhausted from his rough day.
The next morning my son peeked into the box to see if he had made it thru the night he jumped right out of the box! We promptly returned him to his box, added a shallow dish of water, and put him in a quiet place to continue resting and waiting for the volunteer from the rescue who was coming in the afternoon to pick him up.
A few hours later we still hadn’t heard much from his box. Carefully opening the lid (remember the escape earlier in the morning?), he promptly let us know he didn’t want anyone peering in his box. He jumped up with his feet and tagged my hand at the lid of the box with his talons! I guess he was feeling a lot better! I was excited to see his face bright, both eyes open fully and a lot of spunk from the little guy. Oh what a difference one night of rest can make! Whatever the storm, this little guy just needed one night of healing. I picked him up (wearing gloves this time!) to check out his wing. Once he relaxed a bit he let me fully extend the wing that had appeared to be injured the night before and didn’t seem in any discomfort at all.
After returning him back to the box he allowed us to get a video of him making his warning “clicks” and watch his movements for a bit before he jumped up and tagged my hand again. Amazing aim and quickness this little guy has! Want to hear him?
Ok, I may not be an owl expert, but it sure seemed like after one night of healing this little guy was now strong enough to go back to where we found him. Plus being a mama myself I was sure this little guy’s mama was probably worried sick about him! While waiting for the rescue volunteer to arrive, and being the ever curious family that we are we had done LOTS of owl research and learning. What a great hands-on learning project! The CornellLab ofOrnithology has a lot of good information for all different kinds of birds. 1 of the things we learned was that if you return a baby owl to the area of it’s nest the mama will start taking care of it again. We also learned that even the babies have strong enough beaks and talons to climb up the tree to it’s nest or to get off the ground and out of danger’s way (well, we sure knew the part about the talon strength was true!).
I contacted the volunteer, told him what was going on and sent pictures and videos. He agreed the best thing to do was to return this little baby to where he came from, well off the road but to the trees next to the road. Deciding which tree to return him to may have been difficult, but there was only a clump of 2-3 trees in this spot so it was pretty easy to choose where to put him. Here’s our release video:
Here are a couple more pictures of him after he was released:
Some lessons we learned from this little guy:
1. Lots of fun and interesting owl facts! This guy is a baby Great Horned Owl. There is a lot of information you can Google to find out more and be sure to check out the link above to Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
2. Wear gloves when handling birds of prey…even baby ones! Actually it should be noted here that reported by bird rescues, many people pick up baby birds because they think they have fallen from the nest and appear to be abandoned. In the case of owls anyway, their mama will continue to feed them on the ground and even the babies can usually climb back up into the tree. If a baby bird is found on the ground in an unsafe place (like on the road), gently move it out of harm’s way and continue on, unless it appears injured. Also it should be noted that owls do not make good pets as they are nocturnal and solitary (where we live they are actually protected and so it’s illegal to own one unless you have a license).
3. Whatever the storm is for me, when I have one of THOSE days, sometimes I just need a night of healing. Sometimes just giving myself the gift of relaxation and a good night of rest may do wonders. Sometimes I may need more and if so, here are some of my favorite ways to “revive”: a hot soak in the tub with a book & 1 of our bath bombs , an iced coffee (or hot if in winter) and quiet time with my Bible or maybe just a simple cuddle with my hubby.
Oh what a difference one night of rest can make! It’s my nature to keep plugging away at something until I complete it….even if that means staying up till wee hours of the morning. Unlike this little great horned owl, however, I was not created to be nocturnal. Even if I was, even nocturnal animals rest and sleep during the day. If I don’t sleep at night it’s highly unlikely with my crew that I will get any sleep the next day. Making myself quit on projects at a good time to get a good night’s sleep, will give me the spunk I need to take care of my own “owlettes” the next day.
If you’re a mama too then I bet you understand the temptation to work late at night when everyone has gone to bed. What are your tips for shutting down at night to get a good nights sleep? What are your favorite ways to “revive” after one of THOSE days?