A wounded great horned owl is recuperating after being rescued earlier this week from an icy Indiana lake. The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that the groundskeeper at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville first spotted the owl Tuesday morning trying to get off the ground, a swarm of crows circling above it. The worker ran over to the owl to try to save it from the crows, which apparently spooked the owl enough so that it moved onto a thin patch of ice in the middle of the park's frozen lake.
The local animal-control department was called to the scene, as were two dive-trained members of the Merrillville Fire Department, who arrived in cold-water suits and with an ice rescue sled. It wasn't an easy process: The owl flailed and retreated when the men tried to approach it, and both rescuers fell through the ice multiple times during their attempts. Finally, more than a half-hour later, the men were able to get close enough to capture the owl in a net. They brought the owl to a nearby sanctuary, which in turn transported the owl to Humane Indiana Wildlife in Valparaiso.
A Thursday update from the wildlife agency noted that the owl was doing well, with no fractures, though it did suffer "a lot of bruising," as well as the destruction of six of its primary flight feathers, meaning it's unable to fly at the moment. Staffers are giving the owl antibiotics and pain meds for the bruising and are hoping the damaged feathers will molt and then regrow. Another option is a process called "imping," in which healthy feathers from another bird of the same age and gender (one that didn't survive its rehab stay) are transplanted onto the owl. Anyone interested in helping the owl in its recovery can donate to HIW. The Hill reports that more than $350 had been raised as of Friday. (Read more uplifting news stories.)