OGDEN — A female barn owl is recovering at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah after being rescued from the ducts of an industrial furnace last week.
The owl was found Thursday, Feb. 1, in the furnace ducts at a Corinne business and brought to the rehabilitation center the same day, according to Executive Director DaLyn Erickson-Marthaler. The bird is in serious condition, suffering from dehydration, burned eyelids and respiratory issues, among other problems.
“She’s improving daily. I still wouldn’t take her off the critical list,” Erickson-Marthaler said.
When it arrived the rehabilitation center, the owl was too weak to stand, according to a post on the wildlife center’s Facebook page. The owl is now getting daily baths to remove the grime from the industrial furnace — though its white towels and carrier are still stained black each morning, the post said.
Erickson-Marthaler estimates the owl was caught in the furnace ducts for a “couple of days,” but said it can be hard to judge depending on what was being burned in the furnace.
Owls and other birds making their way into and then getting trapped in vents and chimneys isn’t unusual in Northern Utah, particularly as spring draws near and birds start to look for safe places to nest.
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“I wish I could say it’s a rare occurrence,” Erickson-Marthaler said. “We get two to three barn owls caught in chimneys a year.”
If they’re found in time, most birds can survive the experience. Erickson-Marthaler says it will take at least two months for the barn owl to heal before she can be released back into the wild.
Birds finding their way into vents can also cause trouble for homeowners. A nest made in a dryer vent, for instance, is a fire hazard, Erickson-Marthaler said, and animals can leave behind droppings and foul smells.
The rehabilitation center encourages property owners to cap entrances to chimneys and vents with cheap covers that can be purchased at home improvement stores to prevent animals from getting inside.
“For them and the wildlife, it's a win-win,” Erickson-Marthaler said.