Story Courtesy of Treveon Bell
(as told to Mona Lewis)
On Monday, Feb. 4, my grandmother Rosa Bell, who I call Muyu, and I were on our way to Progressive Pediatric in Tallahassee. We were still on our road out in Waukeenah. She saw something feathery in the road, and she thought it was a dead bird. Suddenly, it started to move. It was a tiny owl, the size of my hand.
I was scared to get out of the car because I thought it was a baby and that its mother was near. I got out of the car and saw that it was flapping its wings, but it couldn’t fly. I noticed it was hopping on one leg. The other leg looked bent like it was injured. Muyu said to stay with it while she went back to the house to get some gloves and a box. I rubbed its feathers and spoke to it in a calm voice. I looked all around up into the trees, but I didn’t see any nest, and I didn’t hear any of his family calling for him.
When I looked up in the sky, I saw what might be a Harris Hawk circling around. I told myself that I couldn’t let the hawk get the owl, so I shielded him with my upper body to cover him. The hawk was gone. My grandmother came back with some supplies. The owl looked scared. My grandmother had called my tutor, Mrs. Mona Lewis, to get the name of the wildlife organization that she had told us about before. It is St. Francis Wildlife Association, and they rescue hurt animals and try to help them feel better to release them back into the wild.
With the gloves on, I was able to pick him up gently and put him in the box on top of the towel Muyu had put in. We drove to Tallahassee to one of the two clinics who take in injured animals. We went to Allied Veterinary Services on Centerville Road. Mrs. Lewis had called ahead, and they were waiting for us. On the drive to Tallahassee I named the owl “Little Horn,” because it looked like he had little horns on the side of his head. I thought he was a baby because he was so small, but I learned later that he was an adult male screech owl.
When we got to the veterinary office, my grandmother filled out a report, and they took the owl into the back room to examine him. We left him and that afternoon the people from St. Francis Wildlife came and got him. The next day we called to check on him. They told me he was getting special care, and that I had done the right thing by bringing him in.
About five days later they called my tutor to tell her that Little Horn had passed on. They don’t know exactly what happened, but they said he had not been pelleting. Pelleting is when owls make a pellet out of bones and feathers of animals they have eaten but can’t finish. The volunteers at St. Francis thought his leg injury looked like he had been hit by a car. I learned from them that Little Horn was an adult male screech owl, and that the males are smaller than the females. I was sad that Little Horn died, but I know I did the right thing by getting him to St. Francis Wildlife where I know he was taken care of. If we had left him on the side of the road, he might have been hit again by another car or snatched up by that hawk.
Since my time with the owl, we have read online about screech owls. We learned that the pairs usually mate for life, and that means that Little Horn might have had a family nearby. We listened to recordings of the sounds that screech owls make. One of the sounds is like the whinny of a horse, and another sound is a trill, which is a vibrating sound.
I sent a thank you card to St. Francis Wildlife to thank them for taking care of my owl. They invited me to come to the Apalachee Audubon Society meeting on Feb. 21 to hear Mrs. Sandy Beck speak about hawks, owls and reptiles. Mrs. Beck is the Education Director of St. Francis, and she has been with them a long, long time.
My grandmother, my tutor, and I went to the meeting which was held on Florida State University’s campus. We got to see videos of the work that St. Francis does. We met some of their employees and volunteers, including Ms. Nicole who had called my tutor when Little Horn died. Mrs. Beck brought many cool animals to share with us. They included a rat snake (which she put around my neck!), a gopher tortoise, a gray squirrel, a red chested hawk, a red tailed hawk, a screech owl, a barn owl, and finally, a great horned owl.
We learned that these animals need our help to preserve their habitats. We also learned what to do when we find injured or orphaned animals. I learned that St. Francis Wildlife Association needs donations to help them run their hospital and care for the animals. There are many ways to help St. Francis Wildlife. They need volunteers to help care for the animals and they have a GoFundMe Page set up to help repair the animal hospital. They need donations to do their work. You can visit their website at stfranciswildlife.org; you can call them at (850) 627-4151.
“Treveon Bell is the 18-year-old student of Mona Lewis (of Mona K. Lewis Educational Services, LLC). He likes to say that he isn’t “living with autism; he is thriving with it!” He will graduate in May 2019 and is not yet sure of his career choice. He is creating videos for his YouTube Channel, called ‘On the Wild Side with Treveon Bell’. He loves the natural world. He enjoys taking field trips and Florida history. He has a bug collection that he is very proud of. Treveon is the grandson of Rosa and Hayward Bell of Waukeenah and is a member of St. Phillip African Methodist Church.”