A “little, lonely, sad, helpless bird” was spotted by two Steveston residents on the Fraser River late Saturday afternoon.
As the couple, Jonathan Dawson and his partner Carina Spano, approached the owl in an offshoot the Fraser River close to Ladner in their rigid inflatable boat, they could see it was unable to fly and seemed stranded in the water.
“The owl was clearly immobilized – he looked like he was just exhausted,” Dawson said, adding, “He was clearly stunned and floating out to sea. He couldn’t paddle, he couldn’t swim, he definitely couldn’t fly to get out of the water.”
Using the underside of his soft sandals, Dawson gently brought it into the boat to dry out.
The owl didn’t put up much of a fight coming into the boat, and it rested briefly.
After drying out for a while, the owl took off and flew about 20 to 30 feet, but, once again, ended up in the water.
This happened four times before the couple finally decided to take the feathered creature to dry land in Ladner – close to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary – to see if it could manage.
This time, the owl took flight and flew into the trees and then disappeared.
Dawson said the 45 minutes they spent with the owl with its "big blinky eyes" was a “super special experience.”
While he’s not a bird expert, Dawson told the Richmond News he “just had that feeling” the owl might not have survived without their intervention.
Dawson said, reading up on owls later, he learned they can’t fly when their feathers are wet, ensuring what he did was most likely best for the bird.