Photographer and birder Steve Spitzer recently came across a unique sight in Loyola Park Beach, Chicago – a great horned owl swimming across a lake.

The bird had been attacked by two Peregrine Falcons and sought refuge in the water. Spitzer hurried to help it, but was surprised when the owl simply started swimming to safety. As the owl isn’t a water bird, it swam almost like a human, keeping its head above the water and doing a breast stroke.

Finding an owl confronted by two falcons over water in daylight is also quite unusual – the great horned owl isn’t native to water and it is also a nocturnal animal. At this time of year, however, young owls have to leave their parents’ territories and find their own. In this case, the area belonged to falcons, which are very territorial.

More info: Flickr (h/t: dailymail, thedodo)

Apparently, Owls Can Swim Now