Keep Your Shirt On

So a few weeks ago a finder called about a small owl that he had seen get hit by a car.

“Okay, I will see you at Earth Fare in an hour.” I hung up the phone just in time to see my kid (she’s a kid I home school) skidding across the hardwood floor and pounding up the stairs to her mother.

“Mommy, mommy!” She gasped out of breath from the exertion and excitement. “We’re going to Earth Fare to get an EASO (pronounced e-so)!”

Wait, I never invited her to come pick up an owl from a finder in a town thirty minutes away on snow-covered roads. I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with the kind of responsibility that came with someone else’s child in your backseat.

I heard her mom calling down, “Okay guys, just be safe when you go.”

Well, it’s settled, and shortly after that, we headed out to pick up an owl. It’s January and that means that it is EASO season. In wildlife rehabilitation, we abbreviate species by their names. Reptiles and mammals are abbreviated by their scientific name. EASO is an Eastern Screech-owl. When the finder said he had a midsize owl, I assumed that in all likely hood it was going to be a screech-owl.

After a long forty minute drive of being asked about shock collars, we blessedly arrived. I claimed the owl from the finders and hurriedly answered all of their questions, eager to get in the car to open the box. Like a kid on Christmas, I just wanted to open the box and see what kind of owl it was.

When I got back to my car with the box my kid excitedly began to pepper me with questions, “Is it an EASO? Is it okay? How hurt is it?”

So we slowly picked up the lid and peeked into the box, it wasn’t an EASO. It was a Barred Owl, a very small barred owl.In the raptor world, the females are larger and the males are smaller. Looking at my kid, “It’s a barred owl, a BDOW. Congrats it’s a boy!”


“He is sooooo cute!” She exclaimed in a teary voice.

“Alright, we have to run by Walmart real quick and then we’ll head back and check him in,” I told her since I was already in town might as well pick up supplies I can’t get where I live.

She nodded seriously, “Sounds like a plan.”

Never take a six-year-old to Walmart. Every single item that had Frozen on it we had to stop and look at it. Though the experience took a strange turn when I finally got annoyed and firmly said, “We have to hurry we have an owl in the car.”

“Oh yeah!” She remembered. “And he is soooo cute!”

The man standing next to us looked over curious. Guess, he doesn’t hear that excuse too often.


We finish our shopping and start to head back to the wildlife center. About five minutes into the drive she leaned up to the passenger seat where the box was. Noticing the black shirt on top of the box for the first time she asked, “That’s his shirt, right?”

Nodding, “Right, he didn’t have anything to catch the owl with at the time he found the owl. So he used his shirt to catch the owl, and now the shirt is keeping the box closed.”

She paused, thinking for a moment, I could tell we were in for another long drive. “Well, I guess it’s a good thing he took off his shirt! Right?”

Nodding again, “Right, it’s a good thing.”

“It’s a good thing his wife didn’t take her shirt off, right?”

Nodding, “Right.”

The gears in her head were slowly turning and then she had vomit of the mouth and spit out everything in a string of rapid thoughts and questions. “Because girls can’t take off their shirts in public because they have private parts on their chest, but boys can because they don’t have private parts on their chest, but they do have nipples, just no private parts, but boys should still keep their shirts on even though they don’t have private parts.”

Struggling not to fall apart laughing and  trying to stay focused on the icy road in front of me, I simply said, “Right, everyone should just keep their shirts on.”

Nodding, she matter of factly agreed with me, “Right, keep your shirt on.”


We’re giving the owl fluids in this picture because he was dehydrated. 

Arriving at the center we didn’t find any major injuries but he did appear slightly neurologic. Which is common for owls hit by a car. To keep my kid entertained throughout the boring process of paperwork for a new patient and the exam I handed her my phone. Big mistake! When I finally got it back I had almost fifty photos of me and my co-worker checking in the owl.


So yesterday I remembered this when I was down at the center yesterday and I took some photos and a video of the owl for my kid. When I showed the video of the owl flying she got excited because the owl couldn’t fly when we first got the owl.

“He’s just soooo cute! And look he’s flying!” She took off skidding across the floor with my phone. Cringing I hoped she didn’t drop my already cracked phone. “Mommy! Mommy! Look my owl is flying now! The BDOW can FLY!”


My phone still clutched in her hand she began to flap her ‘wings’ emulating an owl.

BDOW Flight

I only wish that I could bottle up her enthusiasm and passion for saving the world one owl at a time and dose all of the people I encounter who lack sympathy for the world.


3 thoughts on “Keep Your Shirt On

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