Basement Intruder

He’s flyin’ in your windows…snatchin’ your rodents up…tryin’ to take ’em so y’all need to hide your rats, hide your mice…

Yesterday I rescued an owl intruder who was stuck in someone’s basement, amongst loads of boxes. But he didn’t come in through the window

The only tiny window was closed. He got in through some kind of duct, but we’re not sure.  And he was trapped for 2 or 3 days. There was only one way out – for someone to catch him and escort him out.

The guy who called said the owl was ‘big’. I asked, “Fire hydrant or coffee can’? -Two size comparisons for the 2 most common owls around here: Great Horned and Screech. Depending on which type of owl it was, it could be a simple rescue or a scary one.  Great Horned Owls are nothing to mess with. Their amazing knifelike talons are attached to some of the strongest feet out there:500 – 1000 psi of crushing power.  Screech Owls, on the other hand, are tiny little meanies. The guy couldn’t tell me if it was a coffee can or a fire hydrant, but he said, “It’s big. Like 14 inches”. He was too scared to even go near it himself.

So I brought my supplies for a Great Horned. A huge net, and a huge box, duct tape and heavy duty gloves. I brought a small net, too, so he could help me direct the owl into my big net.

I went into the basement and…this little guy was staring at me (note the window behind him, which he did NOT enter through. It’s sealed shut)

It was a Screech. Screech Owls are about 6 inches tall. One point of this story is to always estimate down when a man describes in inches how big something is.

The owl looked at me, then flew off, flying beautifully around the boxes, banking corners like the expert flyer he is. I went upstairs to get my smaller net, and the homeowner called out, “Don’t forget to close the basement door…” and the owl flew up, into the living room, then into the kitchen, onto the countertop. He was cornered, and I grabbed him. The homeowner was impressed. Really impressed. But honestly, I could teach anyone reading this how to do it in 5 minutes.

The owl was clacking his beak at me, telling me emphatically, “Put me the *@&@$% down!” and I examined him quickly. I could see into his mouth. He had viscous, stringy saliva from the tongue to the roof of his mouth, a sure sign of dehydration. He had been in the basement 2-3 days. So I put him in a box (a huge box, the one I had brought for a Great Horned!) and took him to the clinic, where I injected fluids under his skin (Sub-cutaneous) to re-hydrate him quickly, and put him in a quiet, dark enclosure with a mouse for his dinner.  The next morning, he looked bright and alert and he had eaten the mouse. So he is ready to be released. I’ll update when we release him tomorrow!

Update: He was released and flew away beautifully, back into his territory!


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