In the wild, Eastern Screech Owls love to nest in small holes that form in old trees.
These holes, or cavities, can be easily found in mature forests where there is a healthy mixture of young, old and dead trees. In the city, however, humans cut down dead trees and plant new ones. Consequently, tree cavities are harder to come by and Screech Owls often settle for suitable alternatives. In the eyes of animals, chimneys may resemble hollowed tree cavities, but they are NOT good alternatives.
Importance of Chimney Caps
Smokey’s story perfectly illustrates the dangers of uncapped chimneys.
This poor Screech Owl accidentally fell down a chimney while looking for a nest site. Screech Owls, like most birds, cannot fly up a narrow chimney, nor can they climb the slick firebrick. Trapped inside, Smokey was desperate for help and unable to free himself.
Luckily, contractors who were installing new heating equipment in the basement of the house noticed Smokey sitting inside the trap at the bottom of the chimney. The workers immediately called the Wisconsin Humane Society for assistance. A wildlife volunteer trained to handle birds of prey was dispatched to the site and carefully freed the helpless bird from his accidental prison.
An examination at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center revealed that Smokey was covered in soot, but uninjured.
A few days, a good bath and several meals later, Smokey was taken back to his original habitat and released. Because of the thoughtfulness of the contractors and the expertise of the Wildlife volunteer, Smokey flies free again. The homeowners were advised to install a chimney cap on their chimney to ensure that neither Smokey, nor any other animal, would ever fall in again.