KIRKWOOD, Mo. (KTVI) – Who would have thought an owl would come inside your house, then refuse to fly out an open door?
“I covered news for 25 years. I never covered an owl in somebody’s house,” said former KTVI reporter George Sells, who came home to the intruder Wednesday.
“I come around a corner and I look up and that owl is up in the corner, wings fully spread,” Sells said after returning home from picking up his kids from school. “I don’t know if it was four feet, six feet. It looked, like, insanely huge.”
A barred owl, the second-largest owl species found in the St. Louis region, had managed to get inside the home.
“Their fireplace … the doors were open, and the flue was open. So, chances are the owl was hunting and fell down the chimney,” said Tom Fitzgerald, of Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions.
Fitzgerald is a former volunteer at the World Bird Sanctuary, a Missouri nonprofit reserve for threatened birds.
“So, I was familiar with handling them; knowing what to do, what not to do. And knowing what to do once I got my hands on him,” Fitzgerald said.
Sells recorded the capture on camera.
“Yeah, I grabbed the phone, it was in my hand. And once I had done the thing to make sure everybody’s safe, I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get some pictures of this,’” Sells said.
Fitzgerald said he used gloves and a net to catch the bird.
“We were able to pin him up against the window,” explained Fitzgerald. “And then just gently put him down into a box. Then I was able … he was looking out the box so I was able to see he was okay.”
Fortunately, the incident caused little damage — just a lamp knocked over and a broken bottle.
“Shocked. I still can’t believe there’s not broken stuff everywhere,” Sells said.
Jay Everitt, Rottler’s technical director, said a flue cap or cover is the way to keep all kinds of critters out.
“They can be very dangerous if they were going to grab on to you. You can see in the video, Tom has his protective gloves on. It’s a challenging situation. It’s not a do-it-yourselfer,” Everitt said.
Fitzgerald released the owl in nearby woods, familiar hunting territory for the animal.
The Sells family was left with quite a story to tell.
“My daughter, Samantha, is 11, and the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘My invitation to Hogwarts is here!” Sells said, his daughter referring to the Harry Potter book series. “‘Ready to go!'”