Driving east (30mph) on Slaterville/Harford road (Caroline?) at about
7:15PM yesterday evening, my companion and I were startled by a collision
and accompanying loud thud on the passenger side of the windshield of my
early model Nissan Sentra.  After a few breathless seconds we stopped,
turned around, and found the object of our unfortunate encounter--a gray
Eastern Screech-owl, sitting motionless, eyes closed, right in the center
of the poorly-lit road.

I pulled the car to the side of the animal and put my flashers on. Keeping
the owl in the indirect beam of the headlights, I squatted close to take a
look. It was clearly sitting upright, and there was no visible external
damage. As soon as I was on the owl's level, it shuffled itself a bit and
within a moment, opened wide its calm, yellow-green eyes.  It turned its
head and looked at me. I said some gentle words of sincere apology. It
blinked, and made a single, plaintive noise that I can best describe as a
sonorous peep. It was a ridiculously adorable creature.

Still quite unsure of the overall condition of this being, I timidly
stroked the back of its head.  He bristled mildly.  Sensing the bird was
coming out of being stunned, I thought the most important thing was to
determine whether the wings were damaged.  I prodded a bit more insistently
on its back, hoping to get it to stretch its appendages a bit.  It obliged,
and after the briefest of self-exploratory motions, the owl whisked itself
out of sight into the adjacent woods.

Marc Devokaitis
Ithaca NY


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