Archive for September, 2019

The Barred Owl

While sitting at my computer doing work, I received a phone call from a friend who is part of the North Country Wildcare team, an organization that rehabilitates wildlife in need. There was a Barred Owl that had been hit by a car and was on the side of the road still alive. Knowing I lived on that road, she asked if I could go check on it. North Country Wildcare was going to contact the vet they work with to see if she had time to look at the owl that day. If so, could I drive the bird over? If the vet didn’t have time, could I still bring the owl somewhere safe until a rehabber could get her.

Saying yes because of my deep love of owls, I left my dog behind and got in the car (both of us sad to part ways that early in the morning) to search for the bird who was supposedly less than a mile away. I slowed way down while driving the area where they said she was and saw no owl. Turned around and did it again. And again. And again. I could not find an owl. Maybe she was well enough to fly off. Pulling to the side of the road, I called the woman who had first seen the bird. She gave me specific sites to look for and 3-4 feet into the woods was the beautiful owl shown in photo above. I kneeled next to her and as peacefully and kind as possible, introduced myself. As I looked into this gorgeous creature’s eyes, my gut said she wasn’t going to make it. With that, I questioned taking her out of the woods and her home, to bring her inside a car and a building. The intention was kind, but was the actuality of it the best for this particular bird? With questions about human intervention circling in head and heart, I decided to act on what I assured the people who asked for my help. If she did live and get released back into the wild, it would feel good to have been a part of that.

I had brought thick fireproof gloves to protect against the talons and a box to contain her. Once seeing the bird, I wondered if an old horse blanket that was in my car would be a better way to pick her up. I was contemplating this by the side of the road and cars kept driving by. It kind of amazed me that not one person stopped to check in. After about 20 passed, a man pulled up and asked if I needed anything. I told him the plan and he got out to help. I appreciated having someone with me. He picked her up and put her in the box. I left the top off of the box so she would have air. As I began to pull out on to the road, the owl began an escape. I passed a neighbor walking his dog and wondered what it looked like from the outside as this bird’s huge wing span began bouncing in the back window of my Mini Cooper. I drove the bird to the vet who had agreed to see her. By the time I dropped off the owl, my heart was invested in hope regardless of my initial sense. The kind folks in the office told me the exam would take too long for me wait for the results. So, with concern muddling my body, I left her there. I drove home and went back to work, but my heart stayed inside the vet’s office hoping to give the owl some assurance that all the stress she was going through was founded in kindness. Only later in evening did I get word that the bird had broken both wings and rehabilitation would not be possible. She was euthanized and her life ended quickly and painlessly.

I texted the person who originally found the Owl and gave her the news. We both were sad. She felt sorry to have left her when she did, believing maybe if she had stayed the outcome would have been different. I was feeling badly for having taken the bird out of the woods, into a car and then the unnatural lighting of an office where humans poked and checked her. Both of us feeling guilt over the same circumstance for different reasons.

This story is to illustrate a couple ideas. One is that we do not always know what is for the best. All we can do is make decisions based on the information we have at the time. Additionally, it is ok to act in opposition of a gut response, yet it is wise to stay open to the idea that you may have to face the feelings that come up if your gut is correct. For me that meant coming to grips with the truth that even though my actions were contrary to my intuition, they were also based in hope and kindness. There was no sense feeling guilt over a choice that had those two energies as its foundation. Chances are good if I had left the owl in the woods because of my instincts, I’d still have felt guilt while wondering how she was faring. Ultimately, this story is to say do your best and let everything else go.


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