It might have been a fight to the death but more likely it was a date gone bad.
On New Year’s Day, Les Sedgwick and his family made a puzzling discovery near their home east of Bowden.
They were riding on two snowmobiles when Sedgwick’s seven-year-old grandson, John Sedgwick, riding on with his father, spotted a grey-coloured wing sticking out of the snow.
The wing led them to two Great Horned owls with their talons locked together in what looked like a death grip.
“They (were) laying basically below a power line but there’s also a fence below the power line too,” said Les Sedgwick, who was riding on the second snowmobile with his two granddaughters.
The birds of prey were lying opposite one another and came unattached when Sedgwick’s son, Shaun, of Airdrie, picked up one of the birds by the shoulder.
“I’ve never heard of it, never seen it before,” said Sedgwick.
“I think maybe they were either going for the same prey and both struck at it at the same time and got tangled up in the fence or the power line. Maybe they were sparring but owls are such nocturnal birds that I don’t know what kind of sparring they do compared to hawks.”
Carol Kelly, executive director of the Medicine Wildlife Centre, said owls typically do not spar unless they are fighting over dinner or a sitting place. She said the pair might have been fighting while sitting on the power line.
“Maybe they were sitting next to one another when the electricity hit them,” said Kelly. “One jumped up and panicked and they grabbed each other.”
Kelly said owls begin to mate at this time of year and it is possible the twosome were courting. In February, owls begin nesting.
“The weather has been warm lately,” said Kelly. “It is possible the weather has just got them in the mood sooner.”
The Sedgwick family took the owls to a taxidermist in Olds after getting a permit from Alberta Fish and Wildlife.