Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

A Florida wildlife officer took this picture of a great horned owl stuck in the grille of an SUV. Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
A Florida wildlife officer took this picture of a great horned owl stuck in the grille of an SUV. Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A lucky great horned owl recently managed to avoid becoming roadkill after being wedged between an SUV’s front grille and radiator in a 140-mile overnight road trip.

The ordeal began when Sonji Coney-Williams was driving her Ford SUV along Florida’s Turnpike between her Central Florida home and South Florida with plans to visit her son. She noticed the bird standing in the middle of the dark road near Yeehaw Junction and initially believed it was a buzzard. 

“It didn’t move. It just stood there and I couldn’t stop,” she told the Sun Sentinel. “I said, ‘No way that was an owl. Owls don’t stand in the middle of the road.’ That’s crazy.”

That night she checked into a Holiday Inn Express in Plantation, and the next morning as she was driving off, a couple flagged her down, pointing to the front of her vehicle.

“I lost it,” she said. “I told them I didn’t want to see it. I knew exactly what happened.”

Not only did the owl go unnoticed during the long drive to Plantation, but he remained stuck in the car’s grille overnight without making a hoot.

Fortunately, the bird was alive and Coney-Williams immediately called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A passer-by gave the owl a cup of water with a straw until FWC Officer Lex Corteguera arrived to remove the SUV’s grille and transport the owl to the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale.

The non-profit center’s director, Sherry Schlueter, said the owl arrived dehydrated but responsive. “It was a good sign,” she said.

Fortunately, staff veterinarians found no major trauma or fractures. The owl made a full recovery and was driven back to Yeehaw Junction where he was released into the wild.

“I am still in shock over all that’s happened,” Coney-Williams said. “I feel so bad. I am glad he’s doing well. He was very lucky.”

This was one lucky bird indeed. Make sure to check out these tips to avoid roadkill disaster.

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