This time of year, male Great Horned Owls busily tend to their nest. First, the male Great Horned brings food to the female while she incubates the eggs. Later, after the eggs have hatched, he is a critical part of caring for the young.
So it was distressing to get a call in early April from Glencoe Animal Control reporting a Great Horned Owl stuck in a soccer net. The owl had been found by the homeowner hanging in the reddish color net where he remained until Animal Control correctly cut the net to extricate him, leaving us to perform the more delicate work of removing him from the actual netting.
Assisted by Animal Control, we patiently removed piece after piece of netting, almost like working a jigsaw puzzle to avoid inflicting injury during the process. Finally, with all netting removed, we performed a physical exam. Luckily for this owl and for his mate and young, he didn’t suffer any injuries – no broken bones, no soft tissue swelling, no lacerations. We turned the owl back over to Animal Control for its immediate release so that it could continue to help care for its young.
Many owls that get caught in soccer nets do not fare as well and suffer from broken wings, deep lacerations or significant bruising. Soccer net injuries can even cause such significant damage that birds are never again able to fly or return to the wild.
Soccer nets should never be left unattended. Schools, athletic associations, park districts and homeowners beware! It only takes a few minutes to take down the nets after soccer practice or on game day and ut the consequences of not doing so could be devastating. A few minutes of your time after a game or practice could save an owl’s life.
Thanks for helping us help the wildlife!