With a tentative hand out stretched, Brian Leal graspes on to two sharp claws of a small striped owl. Quickly guiding the small bird in the air, the owl outstretches its wings to take off to a nearby pine tree. Not a month earlier, the fate of the owl that Leal has now grown attached to was very different. Leal had found the owl in a pool of blood at the Pappajohn Business Building, having suffered an injured beak and brain damage after flying in to one of the building's many windows.
"I was studying for an exam and I saw the owl fly in the window," the University of Iowa freshman said. "I came over to it to see a red dot, and then I just went to find someone to see what could be done. And here we are today."
Vicki Vavra, the associate director for the business undergraduate program, along with other business faculty quickly came to help Leal, who waited five hours with the owl until she was taken away. The college was having a large visitor day with roughly 400 prospective students, but Vavra wanted to help the injured owl.
"I knew to call the [Macbride] Raptor Project, but when they didn't answer it became a phone game for someone to try and take responsibility," Vavra said. "We're just so thrilled; we can't wait to see it recovered."
The Macbride Raptor Project, 2095 Mehaffey Bridge Rd NE, Solon, aims to help Iowa's raptors and preserve their natural habitats. The project specialist, Luke Hart, had the one-year-old owl spend three weeks in rehabilitation and a week of flight training to ensure its health.
Hart said having birds such as owls and hawks is common for cities and wouldn't be surprised if other owls had run into the windows at the UI building. He said he hopes administration may take measures to help coat the windows with a UV tint, which alerts the birds of the danger.
"This building has sides that are almost completely windows," he said. "[The UV window tint] has proven to be a deterrent. We're here and [animals] are here, and we need to find a way to live comfortably together."
Looking forward, Leal hopes through saving the baby owl, others can take note of the importance of nature and the animals that inhabit it."There are so many [animals] around us," the Texas native said. "I want people just to see how beautiful creatures are."