'My heart just melted': Road crew rescues injured owl from cold ditch

An injured owl is lucky to be alive after a road crew rescued it. 'A bunch of full-grown men treating it like a little baby!"

'A bunch of full-grown men treating it like a little baby!'

An owl was brought to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Nova Scotia after a work crew managed to rescue it from the side of a road. 0:58

An injured owl is lucky to be alive after a road crew rescued it from a cold ditch in Upper Stewiacke, N.S. 

William Shelley and four co-workers were directing traffic during tree-trimming on Tuesday when colleague Chad Stephens spotted the owl. The crew immediately rushed to help the animal, which wasn't moving much.

"We were like, 'It's alright, little owl,'" Shelley said. "A bunch of full-grown men treating it like a little baby!"

He said the owl didn't put up too much of a fuss when they corralled it. It was cold, so they wrapped the owl in their work jackets and put it in their truck to warm up while they called the provincial Department of Natural Resources. 

"We were babysitting the owl, we all hovered around the owl," he said.

"I was petting it on the top of the head and its eyes would close and it looked like it was really comfortable. And oh my God, my heart just melted."

Owl recovering nicely

Natural Resources staff came to pick up the animal and took it to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre near Truro. The centre specializes in helping injured wild animals.

The owl is recovering nicely, said Helene Van Doninck, a veterinarian and founder of the centre. 

"It was pretty cold and snowy last night — he would have died if they hadn't found him," Van Doninck said.

Will Shelley and his co-workers were trimming trees when they discovered the owl in a ditch. They think it was hit by a car. (Will Shelley)

She believes the owl — likely a male barred owl — got a head injury from being hit by a car and was in shock. The centre will keep him in an incubator for two days to warm up, and then spend a few more weeks at the centre to recover before being released into the wild.

'Perfect thing to do'

"As soon as we can get him back out, the sooner the better,"  Van Doninck said. "He probably has a mate looking for him."

She praised Shelley and his co-workers for spotting the owl and calling the proper authorities. She recommends anyone who finds an injured wild animal to call for help and avoid handling the animal if they can.

Some animals can be difficult to handle, she said, but this owl seemed docile because of the head injury and shock and needed to be warmed up.

"What they did was the perfect thing to do," she said.