After getting hit by a truck, this great horned owl has been rehabilitated and released back into the wild

An owl hit by a truck last winter has been rehabilitated and released back into the wild, much to the excitement of those who rescued her.

Matt Pistell was driving about 25 kilometres north of 100 Mile House in B.C.’s Interior one dark night when a large owl flew right into his windshield.

He got out to see if it had survived. It wasn’t looking good, so he tried to move it off the road. But as he did, the bird regained consciousness.

In a panic, Pistell called his mom, who told him to call Uncle Murray — a volunteer with OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, based in Delta, B.C.

“It spent the night in my kitchen, which was pretty cool,” Murray Zelt told Radio West host Sarah Penton. “Having an owl in your kitchen, it’s not an everyday thing.”

The bird was transported through a program the society runs, where truckers help move injured animals to their Delta facility.

OWL manager Rob Hope said when the bird arrived, Lucky — as she’s now known — had a concussion, damage to her right eye, and injuries to her left leg. He added Lucky’s marking suggested she was a fully grown adult, at least two years old.

“It’s always a concern at the beginning,” Hope said. “Anytime they’re hurt, we never know what can happen.”

Zelt said he never stopped thinking about the owl, calling the rehabilitation facility every couple of weeks to check on Lucky’s progress.

Finally, after several months of making sure she could fly, hunt and perch, Lucky was ready to be released.

But first she was relocated to the Interior, once again with the help of a trucker.

The following day, Zelt, Pistell, and some of their family went to release the owl.

“I actually … teared up,” said Zelt, who had already scouted out areas that would be safe and appropriate for Lucky, in hopes of her recovering.

“It’s an area that I’m familiar with for photography. It’s rolling meadows, it’s got a creek running through it. It’s picturesque. It’s just beautiful.”

Murray Zelt
Murray Zelt

As the kennel gate opened, Zelt said Lucky “bolted.”

To catch one more glimpse of the owl he had come to care for, Zelt said he went for a hike in the area, searching for her perched on a branch.

“I thought, well, the only thing I can do is give out a poor man’s couple great horned owl hoots,” he said with a laugh.

“Two or three hoots from me and nothing. I’m just about to give up, and she flew from about 100 yards away towards me on a diagonal.

“The sun in the morning sun was on her and she was almost angelic. She was all lit up with golden light. It was like a storybook.”