Canoeist saves life of nearly frozen owl

A Finnish canoeist helped another weary traveler aboard his canoe in Lake Tuusula, rescuing the freezing bird from the surface of the half-frozen water.

The northern hawk owl nearly lost its battle to hypothermia and some nasty crows before Pentti Taskinen came along and helped the bird to shore.

Likely forced into the frigid water by pursuant crows, the owl was shivering and appeared weary as it floated in the water, showing signs of ensuing hypothermia.

When Taskinen first approached the bird in his vessel, it grew scared and dodged away from the canoe. Then it turned back towards him; perhaps realizing the canoe may offer the only escape from its plight.

Taskinen scooped the owl out of the water and placed it onto the deck of his canoe, and the owl laid its head and wingspan out on the deck as if grasping it for life. The owl even tucked its head into a life jacket for the trip to shore, trying to draw warmth from the vest.

Taskinen originally mistook the bird for an otter, and then realized the owl seemed out of place in the water where it was much too cold for a casual dip.

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Photo by Pentti Taskinen

Once he got it safely positioned aboard the canoe, he paddled the grateful bird to shore, where the owl spread its wings to dry off, and then flew off to find a warmer habitat.

All the while Taskinen was able to take compelling pictures of the owl, where its fatigue and perhaps tenacious will to live seem perceivable in its large, golden eyes.

The wet and weary owl likely only had minutes to live in the cold lake water if Taskinen hadn’t come along.

Northernhawk owls are much more common in North America, but are also found in similar climates in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

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Photo by Pentti Taskinen