After a hunting expedition gone awry, a pair of great horned owls found themselves in a tight spot.
The two were found tangled in a soccer net Thursday at Hitchcock Park near 45th and Q Streets.
Animal control officers with the Nebraska Humane Society were called out to help free the birds. They carefully cut the two owls out of the netting. The owls were found in opposite corners, near the bottom of the netting, said Denise Lewis, director of Raptor Recovery at Fontenelle Forest.
Our ACO's worked quickly and gently to remove the scared owls from the nets. Raptor Recovery from @fontenelle4est arrived on the scene to pick up the birds so that they could be checked for injuries, given food, and eventually released back into the wild. pic.twitter.com/mGQlwbwcqh— Nebraska Humane (@NEHumaneSociety) August 2, 2019
The birds didn’t appear to have any broken bones, but one had scrapes from the net, Lewis said. They were tired, thirsty and hungry after the rescue. The duo will head to the organization’s recovery center for further evaluation.
Every year, Lewis said, the group gets one or two calls about owls caught in nets. In 20 years of assisting with raptor recovery, this was the first time Lewis has seen two of the birds caught in one net. The owls hunt at night and become so focused on catching prey that they don’t see the nets.
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Lewis suspects that the two owls tangled Thursday were “youngsters,” hatched earlier this year. She said one appears to be a male and the other female. Both owls appeared fully grown.
Great horned owls are the state’s biggest owls. They have 5-foot wingspans and stand 2 feet tall.
After being freed, the owls got cold water, a free meal and were resting comfortably. Lewis said she’s optimistic they eventually will be released back into their territory.
“I hope they learn their lesson to watch out where they’re going,” Lewis said.