The Mountain Times

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Tangled up in Ford: Barred Owl survives harrowing collision with truck grill

Photos courtesy of Vermont Fish & Wildlife
The owl was placed in a pet carrier following its removal from the truck grill.

Biologist David Sausville, of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, rescued a barred owl lodged in the grill of a pickup truck in Addison County early on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 11.

"I received a call from the driver a little after five in the morning explaining that he had hit an owl," said Sausville.  "He said that the owl was still alive and was lodged in his truck."  Sausville arrived a short time later to find an adult barred owl with its head stuck in the grill of the pickup truck.

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Photos courtesy of Vermont Fish & Wildlife
A barred owl with its head lodged in the grill of a pickup truck following a collision in Addison County.

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A hole left behind in the grill of the truck where the owl's head was struck by the vehicle.

The driver had been unable to avoid the owl when it swooped down to the road, presumably to catch prey by the roadside. He pulled the truck over and found the owl lodged in his grill, flapping its wings and splaying its talons. In order to avoid being harmed by the talons, the driver did not try to dislodge the bird himself but instead slowly drove the eight miles to work and called Sausville.

"The driver did the right thing by not attempting to help the owl by himself," said Sausville.  "Owls can do serious damage with their talons if they get a hold of you; they don't want to let go."

Using a pair of thick welding gloves, Sausville held the owl by the talons while the driver worked to remove its head from the grill.  Sausville then placed the owl in a plastic pet carrier while it recovered from the incident.  He released the owl back into the wild a few hours later where it flew off apparently uninjured.

Drivers are urged to drive vigilantly around dawn and dusk because this is when many wildlife species are most active.  To find what you can do if you find a sick or injured animal, visit the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's website at