We had been out walking our dog during the cool time, as usual. When we got home we were amazed to find a large owl perched on the wooden railing around our deck. We stayed back cautiously and just watched, and took photos as it turned its head all around, its big eyes looking at us. It hopped and flapped down the railing a couple of times, getting even closer, maybe five feet, to us.
That’s when we noticed that it had an injured wing, as it was just hanging down. We immediately called the Grand County Sheriff. The dispatcher was concerned and sent deputy Colton to our house. She also contacted a volunteer for the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation center in Price, who showed up shortly after. We didn’t catch the name of the volunteer, but she easily put a towel over the bird and gently placed him in a carrier.
We want to thank all of them for their compassion and efficiency. We have since learned that, as we suspected, it is a very young great horned owl. Debbie from the wildlife rescue center gave us a full report a couple of days later.
The owl, a male, was just a few days out of the nest and had suffered a serious impact injury. How or where we don’t know, since we live in a quiet neighborhood, away from busy highways. Our owl had multiple fractures of his elbow and fingers.
Debbie, who has over 20 years of experience treating injured wildlife, said that it was unlikely that our owl could ever fly again, though he would heal.
The good news is that, because of his being so young and already used to human interaction and not used to flying free, he would be perfect for educational programs. He was doing well, being given pain medication and eating and drinking on his own.
That’s the story of our unforgettable close encounter. We wonder; was he looking for help from us?
—Lin Ottinger and Ann Ertel