As the box was opened the great horned owl beat its wings hard and strong, cutting gracefully through the crisp December air before finding a perch high atop a nearby tree.
It was a welcome sight for those gathered at the Pearson farm in Ramsey last week.
The owl, released Dec. 4, was found injured on the farm by Al Pearson in August.
Al was going through some scrap metal and other items near a storage trailer when he came face to face with the injured owl.
“I couldn’t believe he just sat there,” Al said.
Al was probably a little more than a foot away from the bird, he said.
“I was so surprised when I looked up and saw him,” Pearson said. “He wasn’t hostile at all. I was surprised he wasn’t more feisty.”
Al has seen owls on his property before, but he was surprised to see such a large bird perched atop the pile.
Al went to get his eight-year-old grandson Timothy Pearson and show the owl to him.
“I though it would be a little bird at first,” Timothy said.
The injured bird made its way to the ground while the Pearsons called The Raptor Center in St. Paul.
The Raptor Center told the Pearsons how to gather the injured owl and put it in a box while a volunteer traveled to Ramsey to get the bird.
Jenny Pearson, Al and Betty Pearson’s granddaughter, scooped up the owl and put it in a box.
According to Betty, the great horned owl had several fractures in its wing.
While the bird was at The Raptor Center, Betty said they could call and get updates on the owl’s progress.
The Raptor Center is part of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and was established in 1974.
According to its website, www.TheRaptorCenter.org, more than 700 sick and injured raptors are rehabilitated at the center each year.
So far in 2012, 772 patients have been treated at The Raptor Center.
When the owl was ready to return to the wild, volunteer Tom Trautwein traveled to Ramsey to release it.
Betty said the group likes to release birds where they are found.
While the owl was found on the farm near Highway 10, Trautwein said it would be better to release the owl at the edge of the woods, farther from the busy highway.
During the release, Timothy Pearson and Trautwein opened the box and the bird flew out, eager to get reacquainted with its home.
Watching the release after rescuing the injured owl was a neat experience for both Al and Betty.
“It’s great to let it go where we found it,” Timothy said.
Kelly Johnson is at firstname.lastname@example.org