The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Midd-West Region

February 25, 2013

Midd-West Moment: Wildlife makes itself at home


Screech owls eat an abundance of small animals, such as mice, rats and squirrels. During the warmer months, they have been known to chow down on grasshoppers, crickets and moths. They have excellent hearing and sight, although they need at least a little bit of moonlight to see effectively at night.

Not a typical situation

As for the screech owl found in our stove pipe, Dupuy said it is hard to imagine how she got there. It is very atypical for a screech owl to wind up in someone’s fully vertical chimney, and he assumed that perhaps it had used the chimney to escape from a bigger predator, such as a great horned owl, and gotten injured during the maneuver, or stuck after the fact.

“Even though it is rare, this is a good example of why you should cap your flue,” he said. “Not only to avoid injury to wildlife, but also damage to your (heating) system.”

The screech owl is currently staying at Dupuy’s home as he attempts to rehab her and ultimately return her back to the environment.

“The tail feathers were matted, probably from soot, and she was nearly unresponsive at first,” Dupuy said. “No one knows how long she was in the chimney without food and she exhausted herself trying to escape.”

After feeding her a dead mouse later in the evening and keeping her in a warm place (at the moment a canary cage in his walk-in closet), Dupuy said the screech owl has become more animated and is showing more fear toward humans — a good sign in the healing process.

The next critical test before considering release back into the wild is to see whether or not she can fly correctly. Dupuy said that he will know better within the next 24 hours whether she will be a candidate for release or may need to take up residence in a wildlife refuge, such as T&D Cats of the World near Penns Creek.

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