This Week’s Creature Feature
The Rescue of Mr. Owl
God works in very mouseterious ways
–from ChrisMouse: The Real Story of Silent Night, by Anon E. Mouse
The lump of feathers on Nutwell-Sudley Road was an owl. Rescuing Mr. Owl took five guardian angels.
Once husband Jim and I recognized the lump as an owl, we turned around to block traffic, thus becoming Angels No. 1 and 2.
I waved drivers around while Jim went back home for our forgotten cell phone and the blanket we wished we’d had when we rescued a very large, angry osprey several years ago in Florida.
Meanwhile, Mr. Owl was softly hooting a plaintiff call. Hearing him, I couldn’t wait for Jim’s return. I walked behind the injured bird, very gently gathered his wings in both my hands and placed him on the grass. I was amazed at how very light he felt. I took off my down jacket and wrapped it around and under him to keep him warm.
He didn’t fight; he seemed to understand that I was trying to help. His breathing slowed, becoming less labored, and the small hooting stopped.
Many drivers slowed down, but only Peggy L’Hommedieu stopped. Guardian Angel No. 3 promised to call from home with the name of a bird rehabilitator.
Jim was taking forever. So I flagged down a pickup truck headed, as we had been, to the dump. “Bring the owl and get in,” said Guardian Angel No. 4, Tommy Wells, who knew the way to a wildlife sanctuary in Davidsonville.
I cradled Mr. Owl in my lap for the 20-minute drive, all the while hoping we wouldn’t be too late. At one point, I thought he had died as I saw no movement in his feathers. Then just the slightest stir proved he was still alive.
At the Davidson Wildlife Sanctuary, Guardian Angel No. 5, Sandy Carr, was expecting us. Alerted by Jim to our arrival, she was ready to take over.
She asked that I lay Mr. Owl down on the back of a kind of a golf cart, pulled on leather gloves and prepared to pick him up. I was afraid one of his wings was broken. But Mr. Owl extended his wings, proving those at least were okay. For such a light guy, he sure had a wondrous wingspan: maybe two and a half to three feet. He was, she told us, a barred owl, a species called secure in Maryland in the brand-new 2nd Atlas of Breeding Birds.
Sandy settled him down, wrapped him up in her hands and gently, ignominiously, placed him in a small cat carrier. When I asked if he would be warm enough, she said what he needed at that point was peace and quiet. She promised to take him to her clinic, and we could check on his progress.
As Tommy and I drove away, we talked about the unusual confluence it took to, perhaps, save Mr. Owl. Jim and I had not started out going to the dump. Peggy just happened to recognize me standing on the side of the road, “looking distraught.” And Tommy, with his life-saving knowledge, made a mid-course change in his quest for firewood.
Here we were, all brought together to save one of God’s small creatures.
Owl Update: As Bay Weekly goes to press, four days after the rescue, Mr. Owl was holding his own, able to rise but not yet eating or drinking.