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Tough Old Bird Survives Run-in with Mack Truck

Cape Wildlife Center heals, rehabilitates and releases an injured great horned owl who had been hit by a truck

The Humane Society of the United States / The Fund for Animals


A will to live

On New Year's Eve, the driver of a Mack truck in Falmouth, Mass., knew that he had hit something, but he assumed the animal was likely dead. He drove another 20 miles to Wood's Hole, and there he discovered a great horned owl—still alive—stuck to the grill of his truck.

The driver called Falmouth Animal Control, and they brought the owl to our emergency hospital in Barnstable, Mass. The Cape Wildlife Center, open 365 days a year, admitted the injured owl that same night. She was stunned, had a broken upper beak and a damaged right eye.

"I have worked with owls for 20 years and never seen an owl as strong and robust as this one," said veterinarian Dr. Roberto Aguilar. "She had an incredible degree of strength, vigor, and will to live."

Over the next four weeks, the staff cared for the owl as she healed and recovered her strength.

Owl draws a crowd

On Feb. 4, more than 200 people gathered at Falmouth Public Library to learn about great horned owls in a lecture offered by Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Director Ian Ives and Cape Wildlife Center staff. The crowd learned about the iconic raptor—about her sharp talons, hooked beak and keen binocular vision that helps her eats large prey including other raptors, such as ospreys and peregrine falcons. Great horned owls are the only creature that regularly eats skunks.

After the lecture, a caravan of 150 people drove a few miles away to Audubon's Ashumet-Holly Sanctuary, near where the owl was originally injured.

As the crowd looked on, Cape Wildlife Center staff released the great horned owl back into the wild where she belongs.

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