A great horned owl is back flying after colliding with a pick-up truck and getting stuck in its grille.
The high-speed collision took place on a highway near Camrose, Alberta, just before dawn on Tuesday. Jennifer Thomas, a teacher at Camrose Composite High School, was driving to work when she heard a loud thud.
Thomas told CBC News that she was driving fast, and she knew she hit something hard. When she pulled over and walked to the front of her vehicle, she noticed a pile of speckled feathers poking out from the front of her truck.
She soon realized that she’d hit an owl, which broke through her honeycomb grille and got stuck inside the front of the vehicle.
“I assumed it was dead,” said Thomas, who continued on her drive to work, dreading the idea of prying the bird’s carcass out of the grille herself.
It wasn’t until she brought the school’s shop teacher out to her vehicle at lunchtime that she realized the owl wasn’t dead at all.
“Instead of the wing sticking out, its face was sticking out the grille at me, looking at me and blinking its eyes,” she told CBC.
Thomas immediately called Fish and Wildlife Officer Lorne Rinkel, but by the time he arrived, a group of students had their own rescue effort underway. According to a report by Metro News, the group of students helped roll the vehicle into the school’s garage, where the the shop teacher used a reciprocating saw to cut into the vehicle’s plastic grille. Once they managed to remove another piece of it, Rinkel reached in and wrapped his hands around the owl’s wings so they wouldn’t start flapping.
Rinkel said that he’s seen lots of birds stuck in the front grilles of vehicles. This is the first time, however, that he’s seen one survive. In fact, he says that when the owl was removed from the front of the vehicle, it was in surprisingly good shape.
“It had a small amount of blood on one of its legs, but the legs and wings were fine,” Rinkel told reporters. “There were a lot of happy students taking videos and pictures, almost cheering, you might say.”
It was a happy surprise for Rinkel as well, who said that he and other wildlife officers are often forced to euthanize animals they find injured on the roadside.
After spending less than twelve hours with the owl in the Fish and Wildlife building, Rinkel decided the bird was well enough to go back to the wild. He took the box the owl was in outside and opened the flap. Within seconds, the bird was flying again.
“It was a cold, full-moon evening and the owl just popped out, hopped out of the box, surveyed its surroundings, and it just took off,” Rinkel said. “…it was some sort of fairy tail ending.”
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