The Owl that Didn't Give a Hoot

(c) by Jerry Davis  9-8-99

It was early in the morning when I noticed the large paper feed sack hanging on a fence by the road.  It seemed a little different than it did when I saw it in the ditch beside the road the day before.  A little while later, as I passed down the road, I could see that the piece of paper was something alive hanging on the fence.  Then I was close enough to see that it was an owl hanging there.  It's wing was entangled in the barbed wire. 

The Approach

As I approached the owl, I could see that the animal had given up hope and had accepted its fate of being hung till death.  Birds don't take stress well and it would probably take only a short time compared to a mammal for it to "pass on by".   The eyes were dead-set on me as I fumbled through the toolbox of the pickup for a pair of leather gloves.  After putting on the leather gloves, I reached for the wing of the owl expecting the owl to come "unglued" and to "bite and fight".   Much to my surprise, she kept her magnificent claws locked one to each of two barbed wires, and her free wing perfectly still.  Her beak however did send me a greeting of "clack,  clack,  can you help me back?"

The Steel Glare With No Soul

The steel glare from her eyes stayed locked on mine and I could see into hers.   What I saw, were the brilliant colors of polished gold and black with no soul visible in their depths.

Torn Flesh and Hopeless Entanglement

I could see the flesh of the wing was torn and the feathers and flesh were hopelessly entangled with the barb of the wire.  The bones of the wing while showing, seemed to be intact.   I had a linoleum knife in the tool box, so I retrieved it to see if I could release the feathers from the barbed wire.  I placed my left gloved hand over the face of the owl to keep her calm and protect her from seeing what I had to do.   The owl didn't flinch.  With the linoleum knife in the right hand I began to work the blooded, wet feathers away from the barb.  A few minutes later the wing was free and I am holding the giant bird in front of me, its wings spread wide as it could reach.

 The Owl Crunched Down

Suddenly, the owl crunched down on my gloved finger as if to say "it is time to turn me loose now".    I raised her high above the fence and shoved her forward into the air and released.   She caught the air under her huge wings and settled to the ground about twenty feet on the other side of the fence and turned about to face me.  A lot more staring takes place.  I have done all I can think of to do for the moment so I wish her well and leave. 

Sinbad The Cowdog Makes Observation

Sinbad The Cowdog is observing all this and I am hoping he doesn't have an idea in his head to investigate.  We return to the house and I can observe the owl still in the same location for a period of about two hours.  Apparently resting from the ordeal.

She Flew The Coop and Gave a Hoot

The next time I look, the owl has "flown the coop."  If the wing heals and the infection passes, I expect the owl will "give a hoot" late at night as she checks for crickets and mice under our guard light.


The owl was observed sitting on a post near our guard light many times after this.  The Great Horned Owl is a common sight to the keen observer, from dusk till dawn, in the Central Texas area.