Yesterday we noticed one of the owls was sitting pretty close to the house, so Mom and I went out to watch him, taking the camera with us. What we think are the two fledglings are nearly always in the vicinity of each other. So while I was watching the one hunched over a tree above Dad’s trailer, Mom was scanning the trees looking for the other one.
“Oh my god! Don’t move!” I heard her say behind me. I froze. She told me to look up to my left. There was the other owl, sitting on a branch right above me, looking down at me curiously. I snapped a couple of pictures of that one before he flew to a higher, more secure location.
The other one, however, was hunched over in a weird position. I was able to get almost right underneath him. He just looked at me, but didn’t fly away.
It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life.
But this morning, we learned why he didn’t fly away. He’s injured. Or sick. Dad noticed him hopping on the ground this morning before managing to hop onto a branch about a foot off the ground. It was obvious something was wrong with him. It broke my heart. I got within a couple of feet of this beautiful creature, almost close enough to touch him. He looked at me with such sad eyes. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried all the way to work.
But, my parents were on the case. They contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and a local vet who treats injured wildlife. Mom called a couple of hours later to tell me the TWRA folks had come out and gotten the owl and he was on his way to the vet. The TWRA people said it looked like a wing injury, but of course, they won’t know for sure until the vet checks it out.
If it’s a wing injury and it’s treatable, we might be able to get him back. If it’s not treatable, there are bird sanctuaries injured birds can be sent to and be cared for. If it’s a sickness, well, at least we’ll have the comfort of knowing the vet would have ended his suffering quickly.
I just hope our other two owls don’t mourn his loss. And I know it’s silly, but I hope they don’t blame us for taking him away from them. We’re hopeful he can return, but at least we know he won’t suffer anymore.