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Lucky For That Owl

“There is an owl in the birdbath outside my window,” I signaled Trudy.

I proceeded to update her on its every move. I was fascinated, since although we’ve had Eastern Screen Owls in our trees for years, I’ve never seen one on the ground. 

The owl hopped out of the birdbath and onto the bench, perching on the lower rung three inches off the ground. I signaled an update. Then it hopped to the other end of the bench, sat there fidgeting for a moment, and then hopped along the ground and into the cluster of Turk’s Cap at the base of the Ash tree. I signaled an update.

From there, it hopped up the Ash, clinging to the trunk. I signaled the updates, but at this point, I knew that something was not right. I went to the front door where I could get a better view. From its spot on the side of the tree, the owl was alternately eyeing the canopy and preening itself. And then suddenly, it turned its head.

With its yellow owl eyes unblinkingly wide open, it looked directly at me. I had made no sound. I hadn’t moved an inch. But it had spied me there, and it was staring me down. 

“Wildlife Rescue!” Trudy signaled me. But it was too late. The owl had already told me. It was hurt. It’s right wing was hurt. It needed help. It couldn’t get back into the tree tops.

I didn’t see Trudy’s signal. I was already walking outside to reconnoiter the situation. As I went around the trunk, I could see that the owl had moved. It was waiting for me, perched on a small log beside the tree. It looked at me. I looked at it. It started clicking. I backed slowly away and went off to get a cat crate that we had found just the previous week.

I came back, crate in hand. The owl was waiting in the same place. It looked up at me with those wide eyes. I opened the crate door and advanced slowly toward the owl, hoping it wouldn’t panic. It didn’t. I pushed the crate opening up against the owl and reached around with my hand and patted it in and closed the door.

As it happens, although Austin Wildlife Rescue is on the other side of town, it is just down the street from where my evening certification class was starting in two hours. So, thirty minutes later, I was driving down the two-rut gravel driveway to Austin Wildlife Rescue. Juan was standing on the porch. He took the crate and went inside. When he came out, he said they didn’t think the wing was broken but that there was definitely a wound that they would treat.

Lucky for that owl that he hopped up to get that drink. Luck for that owl that he knew the man behind that door was just the man to stare at.