Concerned residents rescued a Great Horned owl last Friday, after it was caught in a soccer net.
The owl was discovered in the net late Friday afternoon, January 18. Linda Willetts, who lives just west of U.S. 131, in Algoma Township, called nature lover Marilyn Keigley and both started calling nature centers, the DNR, and others hoping to find help for the bird. The owl’s wings were knotted up tightly in the rope and it wasn’t moving except for an occasional turn of the head.
After gathering advice and learning that bird rescue places want you to “bring the bird to them,” Willetts and Keigley said it was evident that they, “the untrained,” would have to try to free the owl. A call to Ranger Steve Mueller in Cedar Springs landed them some good information. He reportedly told the pair, “Be sure to cover the head so he can’t see to attack you and if it is not rescued tonight it will probably die of hypothermia.”
Luckily the bird was quite calm and probably had been trapped a good portion of the day. Linda’s neighbor, Tonya Walkons (using welding gloves) and her son Dylan, put a thick blanket over the owl and all three went to work cutting and untangling the ropes. After the delicate task of freeing the wings, the bird was free and sat still for another two to three minutes. The group of rescuers was unsure if it was injured and had a rescue center lined up if it couldn’t fly. Shortly, it flew off, proving the event was a success.
Steve Ross, naturalist from Mecosta County, told Keigley a day later, “I’ve handled those guys a lot in the past and have had the talon go right through a thick leather glove. And they don’t let go.