Video of a golden-eyed owl being freed by two groundskeepers from a baseball net at Walt Whitman High School took off on Wednesday after leaders in the South Huntington district found out and publicized the rescue.
The owl's talons became entangled in the net in mid-November, but school officials wanted to publicly commend the two staffers who kept the bird calm as they worked to remove it from the netting while capturing the feat on video.
"They didn’t have to go and approach that bird … the video shows how compassionate my guys are and how much they care," Kevin O’Shaughnessy, head of grounds for the South Huntington district, said in news release.
The groundskeepers — Blaise Addeo and Brian Faller — were alerted to the trapped bird by a jogger, according to the district. When the groundskeepers arrived, Addeo covered part of the owl with a blanket, while Faller untangled the claws. They slowly and carefully freed each leg one at a time, according to the video.
The owl appeared to stare directly into the camera right after one of its rescuers is heard on the video saying, "Hey Bud, you're OK."
Once the owl's leg was freed, it flew off. The operation took less than a minute, according to the video.
O’Shaughnessy hopes that a lesson can be learned from the incident.
"One of the things I hope to get out of this is to educate the public a little bit," he said. "The reason being is that there is that netting … that’s the baseball backstop for practice, and they should roll and tie that thing up because that’s what happens. My hope is that people will see this video and realize that there is all kinds of wildlife out there and what we do in our lives can affect nature.
"We are grateful to our hardworking grounds crew for always going above and beyond what needs to be done," he added.