This bird might be my new favorite one to work with. She has a partial amputation to her right wing after losing a fight with a mini-van. But it doesn’t stop her from having some serious attitude.
An adult great horned owl is reported to have up to 500 psi of crushing power in their talons, which is five times more pressure than the human hand is capable of exerting. If you spend any time in the wildlife rehab world, you’ll hear some gnarly stories about GHO injuries. In my experience, they’ve earned that reputation.
Even this particular bird, who has been an educational ambassador for almost ten years, and who has been handled nearly every day during that time, will squeeze those talons around the glove with tremendous force if you do anything to make her uncomfortable (these situations usually involve walking through doorways, or making noises of any kind).
It feels like a vice has closed around the back of your hand, and while the glove protects you from the points on her talons, you can definitely feel the strength behind those incredible feet.
It’s a really remarkable experience.