6 min read

Woman Stops To Check On 'Dead' Owl — And Gets Quite The Surprise

She was "held hostage" for 40 minutes 😂🦉

It was a regular commute home for Ryly Sawyer last Monday night near Tucson, Arizona — until out of nowhere, an owl darted right in front of her car. It happened too quickly to slam on the brakes, and the owl made impact instantly.

“It was pretty late, so it was dark out and I was the only one on the road,” Sawyer told The Dodo. “I kinda freaked out.”

Getting out of the car, Sawyer found what she feared: The poor owl was lying motionless in the middle of the road. “I didn’t really know what to do, so I picked her up and sat her in my car,” she added. “I thought she had died.”

And that’s when the owl suddenly jolted back to life, grabbing right onto Sawyer’s arm with one of her talons. The other foot was firmly grasping the steering wheel.

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Ryly Sawyer

The owl just stood there, perched on Sawyer, refusing to let go. And Sawyer was hesitant to move too fast in case the owl sank her talons in even deeper.

Unsure of what to do next, Sawyer called Arizona Game & Fish to have them help her sort it out. Judging by the animal’s sudden and now very alert behavior, the officers told her the owl must have just been dazed from the impact, and was just looking to get back home after the ordeal.

arizona owl rescue
Sawyer with the owl latched onto her | Ryly Sawyer

They suggested she toss a small bit of water onto the owl to get her to loosen her grip — but the owl just tried to drink the water instead. Despite technically being held up in her own car by a wild animal, Sawyer stayed very calm.

“I wasn’t scared actually,” Sawyer said. “She had a good vibe to her and I felt as if she wasn’t going to do anything [to me] — and she didn’t. I was just kind of in a state of, ‘What do I do?’”

After about 40 minutes with the owl still gripping her arm and the steering wheel, Sawyer slowly began moving her arm downward, which caused the owl to put both feet onto her.

arizona owl rescue
The owl's talons resting on Sawyer's leg | Ryly Sawyer

Still perched on her arm, the owl didn’t let go until Sawyer walked her slowly to the side of the road. “When she felt the ground, she let go,” Sawyer said. The owl flew away soon after.

That wasn’t the last of the owl, however. Game & Fish workers were in the same area putting up fencing for wildlife when they ran into the source of Sawyer’s exciting call for help the night before. And it was a good thing they did; it seemed in the daylight that the owl might have an eye injury. They brought her to Tucson Wildlife Center right away to get checked out.

arizona owl rescue
The owl outside after she let go of Sawyer and left the car | Ryly Sawyer

“Her left eye was damaged, so right now she’s on medication and we’re waiting to see if her vision in that eye will recover,” Lou Rae Whitehead, animal care supervisor for the center, told The Dodo. “She’s having a hard time seeing out of it right now, but we’ll know for sure what the status is in a few weeks.”

For now, the owl will be going to regular eye doctor appointments and taking some much-needed time to relax and recoup. If it turns out she won’t be able to be released, she’ll have a safe place to live at one of the area’s wildlife sanctuaries.

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The owl after being dropped off at Tucson Wildlife Center | Tucson Wildlife Center

And after their crazy night together, Sawyer offers some important advice to would-be Good Samaritans: “You never want to put yourself or the animal at risk of being hurt. It is always best to call someone to help.”

To help the owl get well soon, you can make a donation to Tucson Wildlife Center.