Tracie Young and her colleagues at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center often joke that the most urgent animal rescue calls come right when they’re about to leave for dinner.
Never did this phenomenon ring truer than last month when, just as she was about to close for the night, Young got an emergency call from a local game warden.
The warden told Young that he’d just rescued an owl who’d been stuck in a manure pit on a local farm for the past two days. Young knew there was only one thing to do: She told the warden to bring the bird over as soon as he could.
“I knew it was gonna be a long night,” Young explained.
Though she expected the owl would be a bit smelly, Young was caught off guard by the disgusting odor wafting off the poor bird. Lovingly, she began calling him Stinky.
Young could tell Stinky was severely dehydrated from two days of being stuck in the hot sun. She also noticed that one of the owl’s eyes appeared cloudy and red.
The animal expert quickly gave the bird lots of fluids, as well as anti-inflammatory and pain medicine. Afterwards, she administered the first of many baths.
The grateful owl, exhausted after his ordeal, remained calm.
“He was so subdued,” Young said. “He was tired from struggling.”
A couple days later, Stinky was already beginning to transform. His feathers were shinier, and his cloudy eye was less swollen.
However, Young noticed there was still something behind Stinky’s injured eye. Using tweezers, Young examined the area. Peeking behind the bird’s eye, Young was heartbroken to find a pellet from a BB gun lodged in the socket. Surely, this was why the owl had fallen into the manure pit.
Miraculously, though, despite his injury, the resilient owl could still see just fine.
“I was just flabbergasted,” Young said.
Astonished by the owl’s recovery despite the odds, Young stopped calling the bird Stinky and started calling him by a new name: Lucky.
Lucky is still living at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center, where experts are making sure he receives the care needed to make a full recovery. In the coming weeks, Lucky will be moved to an outdoor flight pen, where he’ll be able to safely relearn to fly. If Lucky proves he has all the necessary skills, he’ll be released back into the wild. But if not, he’ll always have a home at the center.
Young is grateful that the stars aligned that fateful night and that Lucky was able to get the care he needed. The bird-lover continues to be amazed by Lucky’s recovery and his incredible transformation.
“To look at this owl now, today,” Young said. “You would never know it was the same owl.”
To help other animals like Lucky, make a donation to Raven Ridge Wildlife Center.