Out of the treeline it flew. Into our 60 mph path. Wanda reacted. Slammed on her brakes. A great mass of feathers skimmed her truck’s front grill. Then elevated to smear our windshield with it’s head smacking its beak on the glass. Surreal, time stood still. Both of us were aghast knowing we had collided with a beautifully massive Great Grey Owl. Wanda shrieked the horror for the both of us. It was unimaginable. Just as it hit, its fan of feathers slipped, as if wind swept, sharply from the glass. And splayed out on the road behind us. All I could muster was, “Stop the truck” which my friend was already doing. Thank the good Lord no one had been behind us—or within sight. I jumped out. And ran. We were on a remote mountain highway, after kayaking all day at a hidden lake. I could not handle the thought of this raptor perishing under the wheels of the next vehicle.
The owl’s enormous wings were splayed wide across the opposite lane. Its body stunned quiet. Its claws coiled into balls. I had to get it off this road. I had never touched an owl before . . . just admired them from afar. Its feathers were a twisted heap. It was alive. Barely. I didn’t know for how long. His eyes were catatonic. The beak open. The tongue hanging out.
Carefully, I took each wing back to its body. Did a quick scan. Picked it up as a mother holding her fragile infant, also cradling its head. My arms swooned around to protect it. To ward off any pain. And brought it into the womb of my chest. Wanda caught up after parking her truck safely. She said to watch the talons as they could be very dangerous. I acknowledged, but gave it no other thought.
The raptor lay quiet. A full armload. Snugly, I secured it close. Sending it heartfelt energy to recover, even though I had little hope. For as substantial as it appeared, its weight was less than 5 lbs. This being was feather rich in a light body. It would take a miracle to bring it back into this world.
I told Wanda I was taking the owl into the woods from where it came. So we trekked inland about 200 feet. I relaxed down to sit on a log and gently swayed the ailing owl back and forth. I could not let it die without love. His body gave him no choice, but to submit. After awhile he pulled his tongue back inside his mouth and closed his beak. His eyes still dilated now stared.
We had no words. We both sent it healing, loving energy. And waited. I continued to lullaby rock nature’s finest in silence as if it might soothe. He began to move its head. His feet stirred. One eye pupil contracted; the other not so much. A rim of red circled that eye. There was blood on one of his talons. The true extent of his injuries were still unknown.
A half hour then more crept by. Wanda retrieved a cardboard box from her truck. We decided it best to place him in it to see if he would recover himself. He eventually stood. And peered over the side of the box. Another half hour slipped by. He was panting as if hyperventilating. Yet he turned his head around cautiously both sides, with eyes open, and more alert. He focused on me standing back. Several times intently. We looked deep into each other’s eyes and found a soulful resonance: of respect, and of appreciation.
We talked of calling the wildlife sanctuary several hours away for advice. But there was no reception. Discussed taking him in if need be, which felt futile-stressful to put upon him.
We both wished him to fly off, and said so. I envisioned him flying and sent him that picture. He revived a tad more. He was now blinking and turning his head around freely. I took him out of the box and placed him on the ground. (Pictured here.) He stood without wobble. Wanda’s medical background, and former aviary sanctuary expertise, was a godsend. Her skilled fingers worked gently to detect any fractures. And found none. Wanda picked him up, barely, and swoosh he flew off! His flight too impressive to take our eyes off. In our awe, we could not even reach for our cameras.
His four to five foot wingspan swept through the forest low, albeit back towards that road. He landed in a clutch of tree branches chest height off the ground. We went to find him well camouflaged, but not recovered fully. (Pictured below.) I broke the brittle branches away from him as he sat askew. Wanda placed his off talon back next to its other. I folded his wing back by his side. He offered no resistance. He flew to the ground. Wanda braced him, picked him up. He flew a very short distance landing under another tree on the ground nearer to the road. He was exhausted. It was clear he had a destination. Perhaps back to his family.
Our eyes met and interlocked again. With intention I promised to take him across the way. Around the thicket I went. Then approached from behind. Scooped him up. Cradled him close. He allowed it, yet wiggled for freedom. And then his body vibrated against mine as he clicked his tongue. I was elated for another sign of recovery. Securing him to my chest I walked the rugged terrain diligently. Then crossed the road.
On the other side he showed no interest in flying. He was spent. We placed him in a thicket of trees off the ground where he blended in with perfection. Now nature would do him best without the stress of us humans. Two hours plus, and the long shadows of evening were upon us. We gave him all any human could. We walked away knowing he would have a good chance, pending any internal injuries from his head bang. The rest was up to him.
I laid awake that night wondering. Kept seeing his big soulful eyes staring at me. Wanda later mentioned his affinity for tracking me. What was our encounter all about? Why did the three of us co-create this perfectly timed moment? Perhaps this owl longed to know human touch. Or, we needed a reminder of that frailty can invoke great resilience. I marveled the whole while I had held him. Appreciated his strength, his presence and purity.
There are no accidents. Only moments of divine timing, to which this event certainly qualified. I asked my spirit guides to provide some validation one way, or another over the next days. Like the feathers that had fallen from the bird-less sky lately. The second morning thereafter I rode my Lily quietly out in my back pasture under the vast open sky. Our horse-human connection once again revealed. At several intervals, a variety of bird flocks emphatically graced the heavens above. Resolve. Freedom. And strong health were resonating thoughts surrounding our owl.
The rare presence of a Great Grey long suggests abundant spirituality, wisdom, intuition, power and strength, and that transitions soon prevail. Our Owl was sent to impart a sacred, eternal message. This was not a “chance” meeting. Our encounter beckoned a reciprocal trust. A connection between two species deeply inter-dependent upon one another. That there was indeed great significance in our alignment as complimentary, yet equal beings. Each vital. And every one of us is integral to this web we call life. Another reminder that every action we choose to enact, affects not just one other, but the whole. And individually, or as a collective, WE can choose to perish- or thrive.
This essay is now a lesson plan with integrated activities. Check it out HERE!