Dear Wife was finishing with putting out the ducks this morning and I had come out to water plants.
“One of the owls is down on the ground behind the old Ford.”
“I think so. Why would it be on the ground?”
“I’ll go check it out.”
I stuck my head around the corner of the lean to and then squatted down to see under the tractor. Nothing. When I stood back up I saw something in the seat of the tractor, yet I couldn’t make it out from the angle I was at. I moved around the front of the lean to, over to the other side, and as I moved I began to construct the image in my head: the coloration was correct yet it was too small; there appeared to be downy feathers mixed in with regular feathers; and then the unmistakable face of a barn owl. One of the babies was perched in the seat and appeared to be asleep.
About this time DW made her way over and I assessed her of my assessment. No small amount of discussion ensued, primarily because we weren’t really certain of what to do. Try to capture the bird and put it back in the nest? Or just leave it there? Did it fall out or was it kicked out? And where were the adult birds? We knew that we could not leave it there, so whatever the answers were really didn’t matter. We decided to try to put the bird back in the nesting box.
I went into the barn to fetch the extension ladder and a pair of welder’s gloves. DW went up to the house to get another pair of welder’s gloves we use for the wood stove, and a towel to cover the bird with for the rescue. She also brought back a camera and a animal carrier, just in case we had to take the bird to a rescue shelter.
As I approached the bird, it hopped down from the tractor and attempted to fly. It had some capability, but not much. I cornered it and it took a defensive stance, head down and wings out. Wrestling with the ducks came in handy and I managed to get the bird under control and secure in my hands. It was still very small, yet already had an impressive wing span.
After handing the bird off to DW, I placed the ladder, took the bird and wrapped it in the towel. It had one of DW’s gloves in its talons and wouldn’t let go until completely wrapped in the towel. I slowly made my way up the ladder and stopped when I could see into the box. I saw an adult in the corner and in a defensive posture, but no other chick. I know I heard two the other night, so it might have been behind the adult. I put the towel up into the box and gently unfolded the bundle. As I was doing this, the adult was screeching something fierce. Finally the chick dislodged itself from the towel and stood on the ledge of the box. I quickly decended, and hit the ground just in time to see the chick turn from us and hop into the nest.