Look at the bird on the left. He/she was pulled from a chimney this morning by Mathias. Notice the feathers are darker from soot. The finders of this bird were out of town and when they returned home, they were surprised with an owl stuck in their chimney.
Patient #15801, barred owl, adult (after third year), found in Huntersville NC
Since the early 80’s, CRC has admitted 230 raptors that were trapped in chimneys. More specifically, 140 barred owls, 65 Eastern screech owls, 22 barn owls, 1 great horned owl, 1 Cooper’s hawk, and 1 American kestrel. Of those received, 189 were released, 33 did not make it (some euthanized, some dead on arrival, and some died while in rehab), and 1 barred owl (our newest patient) is still in rehab.
Barred owls and Eastern screech owls are the main species found in chimneys because they are cavity nesters. Common injuries from being stuck in a chimney include corneal ulcers, wrist wounds, worn talons, emaciation, and dehydration. More rarely we see respiratory trouble secondary to inhalation of soot. Normally, we find few problems during the intake exam and the bird is released within a day or two.
This injury cause can be easily prevented by capping chimneys. Only raccoons, chimney swifts and bats can extricate themselves from a chimney flue. Protect wildlife by capping your chimney!