WIESBADEN, Germany - It may have looked like a fluffy hood ornament, but Soldiers of the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion recognized the stray owl fledgling lost in their motor pool.
"It all happened during command maintenance," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gerardo Ledesma of the 2nd MI Battalion. "Members of Company B, 2nd MI, were doing Preventive Maintenance, Checks and Services when they found the owl on the back of a tactical vehicle and reported it to Sgt. 1st Class Gerson Espinoza who contacted the Environmental Branch and the Fire Department."
"It's really nice that they contacted us," said Alex Sabais, a member of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Directorate of Public Works' Environmental Division. "The Soldiers and members of the Fire Department provided us with lots of information."
The baby, long-eared owl had apparently fallen out of its nest, said Alwin Garcia, chief of the Environmental Division. "It was sitting erroneously on a HMMWV located in the 2nd MI's motor pool."
After a site visit the environmental engineers determined the baby owl was most likely from a family known to nest on the installation. The owls use old nests of other birds such as crows, ravens or hawks to raise their young, they reported. At about three weeks of age the fledglings leave the nest and climb around the tree while still being fed by its parents.
Because of roaming cats in the area, all concerned wanted to safeguard the young bird.
"It had been sitting there (in the motor pool) for two days," said Sabais, explaining that after contacting the Fire Department to see if they could assist in getting the owl back into its nest, members of the Environmental Division consulted with their host nation counterparts to ensure that placing the owl back in the tree was the best solution.
"These birds are specially protected," Garcia said. "It's a reflection of our strong environmental conservation program that we work together to help protect the environment. … We wanted to make sure it was OK to put the bird back in the nest or leave it."
"We also wanted to make sure we weren't doing something to harm the owl," said Sabais.
Two hours after Soldiers contacted the Environmental Division, the owl was safely back in its nest, thanks to the help of the firefighters and all concerned.
Ledesma said Soldiers have been keeping their distance so as not to disturb the little owl, but have spotted the mother owl on occasion.
"It was a group effort from Bravo Company doing the right thing to save the owl," he added.
"The coordination was great," added Garcia.