A man got a surprise while driving down I-77 in Huntersville when he says he hit "something big". He stopped and pulled over, not knowing what it was.
He found a large Great Horned Owl stuck in his grill. The owl was wide-eyed and alive. A mouse – presumably what the owl had swooped down to grab for dinner – was lying beneath the car.
Since then, the owl, which is a female, has been at the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville. It's being treated for a broken wing and a broken leg.
The Center says by all accounts, this is a massive animal. Female Great Horned Owls are usually 20-30% larger than their male counterparts… but this particular bird is in the upper range of even the largest of birds. They tell WBTV they think by the time the owl is completely rehabilitated, it could be one third bigger.
A spokesman for the Raptor Center said over 800 birds a year are brought there, with the most common reason being "hit by car".
The spokesman added the reason that such a large number of birds collide with cars is that many people believe it is okay to throw bio-degradable trash out of their car windows. Mice and rats are attracted to the roadway to gather up these items, and raptors preying on the animals are so focused on the prey they don't see the car before they get hit.
The owl was in surgery this past week, and will be getting physical therapy Thursday morning.