Finnish kayaker saves drowning owl

November 8, 2013 • 3:43 pm

Like the evening news, I always like to end on an upbeat story, particularly one about rescued animals. PuffHo reports a Finnish kayaker whose story originated at the Finnish-language link below. The PuffHo puffery:

Whoooooo’s that in the distance?

That was the question on Pentti Taskinen’s lips when he was paddling out on Finland’s Lake Tuusula on Sunday. Once his kayaker got closer, he noticed that the moving figure jutting out of the water was not an otter or another marine mammal, but an owl.

Fearing the bird would die of hypothermia, Taskinen rowed closer and helped the owl onto the front of his kayak, Finnish daily newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reports.

. . . After the owl climbed aboard, it cuddled up to Taskinen and nestled itself partially under his life vest while he paddled back to shore. (Awww.) Once the bird — believed to be a northern hawk owl — dried off and regained its strength, it was able to fly away on its own.

Northern hawk owls are primarily found in Alaska and Canada, however a widespread population also exists in parts of Scandinavia. Named after hawks for their similar hunting techniques, northern hawk owls are not nocturnal like most owls are and instead prey on small mammals when the sun is high in the sky.

Oh dear. It’s “found primarily,” not “primarily found”! There are other bits of bad writing here, like the superfluous “are” in the last sentence and the equally superfluous “in the sky” at the end. I won’t say anything about the “Awww” and the “Whooooo’s”. . .

Photos below are from Ilta-Sanomat (if you speak Finnish, go over there and give us some details, as their story is much longer)




43 thoughts on “Finnish kayaker saves drowning owl

    1. Local ornithologists speculate it might have been driven there by crows, or possibly got lost in the thick fog.

    2. Local ornithologists speculate it might have been driven there by crows, or perhaps got lost in the thick fog.

  1. That’s a Northern Hawk Owl alright. They’re a fun and easy owl to spot if they’re in your area for 2 key reasons: they’re active in the daytime and they have this interesting behaviour of dropping precipetously from a high perch and rocketing off low across the landscape only to buzz back up to a high perch again.

    1. Thank you!

      Very useful, since a coworker described a pair of owls displaying that behavior outside his house. E.g. the owls swooped the house side when leaving a high perch. He thought the first one would collide with the window.

      So now I can tell my coworker that it could have been some owl’s innate behavior.

      [Maybe not the NHO though, I see it is rare and varying in population size.

      Then again its preferred habitat (“live mostly in open coniferous forests, or coniferous forests mixed with deciduous species” [Wikipedia]) may remind of some gardens here.]

      1. ‘Scuse me, but I always read that word as ‘cow orker’, possibly some creepy hybrid created by Saruman in the experimental farms of Dunland.

        1. A cow orker is one who orks cows. What the cows did to deserve orking — and especially by the ones orking them — has never been particularly well established.


          1. ‘Cow orking’ is a bastardisation of ‘Cow Auking’ – the practise of beating cows providing poor milk yields with a Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis). Cow Auking was widespread in coastal regions of the North Atlantic nations until the late 18th century, when modern agricultural methods produced cows with better milk yields and was, of course, based more on superstition than proven benefit.

            The origins of Cow Auking are unknown, and are thought to date back many many millennia. There are depictions of Cow Auking in the El Pinto Cave in Spain from over 35,000 years ago, while cave paintings 20,000 years old have been found in France’s Grotte Cosquer.
            The practise completely died out in the mid 19th century when the Great Auk became extinct because of another of its properties – that of being delicious.

            1. Sorry, but that’s a huge load of dodo! Everybody knows that cow orking only came to prominence after a badly-translated account of Lady Godiva’s ride made it to a certain agrarian state….


    1. I wonder if Pentti has considered offering the photos, for a fee, to the kayak makers. They are excellent. The funds could be donated to a wildlife conservation fund or even Doctors Without Borders.

    1. Yes, slight mistranslation, in original “it was shaking with cold and crawled close, pushing its head under the safety vest for warmth” Not safety west in English necessarily, floating…? Anyhow, “Taskinen dried and warmed the bird and then set it free” but not mentioned how, or if it was later. Maybe under his jumper, maybe not?

  2. He was worried about hypothermia, and not, say, drowning? Waiter, what is this owl doing in my lake? The backstroke, sir.

  3. Pardon my ignorance, but what’s wrong with “primarily found”? I think adverbs often precede the words they modify…

    1. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

      Yet another erroneous guideline from that largely dreadful book, The Elements of Style.

        1. The sign on the first floor, right next to the elevator, says: “no smoking in all areas.” I say it should read: “no smoking in ANY area”.

      1. I thought maybe I agreed with Jerry, but then I tried replacing “primarily” with “typically,” “generally,” and “usually” which all seem more appropriate coming before “found.”

        1. Note that there is no ambiguity or ilogic here. Ergo, which formulation is preferable is arbitrary, unless one formulation is hard to pronounce or so unusual that it would distract attention away from the content of the sentence.

  4. I’m actually standing by the Tuusula lake at the moment, and the owl story has put a smile on a lot of local faces. The lake has a heartwarming environmental history as well: It used to be a horribly polluted by sewage in my childhood in the early 1970’s. Can’t recall if swimming was forbidden, but at least it was seriously discouraged. Then the lake was restored by a sort of sediment oxidation, and after perhaps a decade or so the lake was healed. It’s now a popular place for outdoor activities as well as local wildlife as a natural conservation area.

    1. I just learned the story is even cuter than I thought. The owl was helpless and freezing in the middle of the lake. It first tried to flee the kayak but changed its mind, turned around and crawled on the kayak, then continued on to the warmth of mr. Taskinen’s life vest, literally spreading its wings as if hugging the man. He paddled to the shore, where another guy picked the owl up. Now the owl found a warm place between his chest and jacket for an hour. Finally, the owl was taken inside to recuperate near the fireplace. After another hour the owl bid farewell and flew away.

      1. As if the owl thought, “well I’m dead if I flee and I might be dead if I don’t so what the hell, I’ll go with the less likely death scenario”.

  5. I’m a native finnish speaker. The Huff piece and coldthionker’s post see, to have pretty much everything included from the orginsl finnish article.

    On a more personal note, one of my favourite childhood memories is when my father’s friend found one these birds from his yard. It had broken one of its wings. I got to hold it on my lap, or actually hold the box in which it was, all the way to the wildlife veterinary hospital. Holding and watching that majestic bird was really exciting experience for a 8 year old boy.

    1. Excuse the typos.

      Must remember not to never write in a foreign language after few pints on a saturday night.

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