A low-flying owl glided into the grille of a car late at night and became lodged until Brooklyn Park police officers freed the bird and chauffeured it to a wildlife caregiver.

However, the adult female barred owl was “pretty much smushed” and did not survive the early Monday collision, said Lori Arent, clinic manager for the University of Minnesota Raptor Center in Falcon Heights.

The officers’ wise response occurred about 3:20 a.m. in the 7900 block of Lee Avenue N., where motorist Nicholas Matthew lives and drove home that night from his job in Savage.

Police say Matthew knew the owl had struck his vehicle somewhere on his route home, but he thought it had flown away.

“When he got home, he saw that the owl’s head was stuck in the front lower grille of his car,” read the police report. Matthew then called police about his predicament.

With the help of Sgt. Max Farrand, the owl was freed but “it seemed to be injured,” the report continued.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Matthew said the owl had to have been stuck in the grille for at least 30 miles after he left work at the Hy-Vee grocery store.

“It really didn’t seem like the end of the owl,” Matthew said, when told the owl had died. “When I was holding him, it seemed so calm.”

Matthew contacted the Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota in St. Paul, which was open and willing to take wild animals. From there, the center took the owl to the Raptor Center.