WATERTOWN –– A baby owl found near a recycling container near a North Eighth Street residence last week in Watertown was returned to a large tree recently, where wildlife experts hope its parents will find it.
A neighbor knocked on Hilary Furnish’s front door at 7:30 a.m. on May 20 to tell her about a feathery creature he found.
Furnish was excited to spot a baby owl sitting near the recycling and garbage containers. But the baby was all alone, prompting Furnish to take a picture and send it to Wildlife In Need Center in Oconomowoc in hopes that it could rescue that owlet.
Alexa Cushman, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with Wildlife In Need, said another wildlife expert was called out to the Watertown home to rescue the owlet, which they identified as an eastern screech owl.
She said the owlet was kept at the WIN center for two days, where it was checked for any injuries it may have incurred from falling nearly 12 feet from its nest to the ground.
“We made sure it didn’t have bruises or other injuries and we fed it,” she said of the 2-week-old bird. “We gave it a full exam, and found it was perfectly healthy. We knew we needed to reconnect it with its mother.”
It was fed water and thawed out pieces of mice.
On the morning of May 22, Seth Kauffeld, a certified arborist with Kauffeld Tree Care in Watertown, brought his bucket truck to where the owlet’s home was and waited for Cushman to arrive with the bird of prey.
Just before 9 a.m., Cushman showed up with a small carrier and the frightened owlet inside.
“Sometimes, they just fall out of the nest,” Cushman said. “We always want to place it back in its nest whenever possible so this is great to have happen today.”
Kauffeld admitted he never put an owlet back in its nest, but had squirrels and the occasional raccoon jump on him while working in a tree.
“It’s pretty neat to have the opportunity to do this,” he said as he closed the door to the bucket rising to the owlet’s nest. “I’ve rescued cats from trees, but nothing like this before.”
As the bucket rose with Kauffeld, the owlet’s mother could be seen peaking its small feathered head out from its nest where she had four other others in her care.
The mother flew to a nearby tree, but kept its eyes steady on her nest and Kauffeld, who placed the small owlet gingerly back inside the hollow tree.
“There are four others in here,” Kauffeld exclaimed as he took out his cell phone and began snapping photos of the reunited owlets.
“That’s a very good sign that the mom didn’t abandon the nest or her babies,” Cushman said. “We deal with this every day. Having the owlet back with its family is the best thing for it.”
While Kauffeld continued to snap a few more shots of the owlets, Furnish and other neighbors gathered with their cell phones to capture the moment.
“This is great news,” Furnish said.
Cushman concurred as she thanked Furnish and Kauffeld for their care and time.
“It’s a good feeling to see people come together to help Mother Nature when she needs it,” Cushman said.
While she walked back to her truck with the small carrier, the mature female eastern screech owl sent out a trill, which is one of its most common sounds to alert her babies she is near and quite possibly, thanking those for reuniting her with its once lost owlet.