WOODINVILLE, Wash. — A Great Horned Owl got himself stuck in a Woodinville chimney – but in needing rescue, managed to bring a neighborhood together.
The Hasenpflugs started hearing some strange noises last week but thought they were hearing birds outside.
“It sounded like screeching sounds, like a clutch going out sort of,” said Dean Hasenpflug.
But by Friday – they discovered the noise was coming from somewhere much closer.
In a video that shows the family investigating the fireplace, a jiggle of the flue revealed a pair of bright, round eyes.
“Oh my god. It’s right – Dad, put the box. It’s right there,” said daughter, Kayla, in the video.
“Eyes were like half dollars,” Dean said. “It was looking straight back down at us,” he said.
“It was an owl, it was definitely an owl,” said Cindy Hasenpflug. Specifically, it was a Great Horned Owl.
The family tried everything they could think of to coax the bird out.
“By day three I figured it was pretty hungry. Maybe even dehydrated so we put a little thing of water and little bit of fresh salmon at the bottom of the box thinking maybe it’ll just drop down,” Dean said.
It didn't work. So they got more creative and even tried to play owl calls to it.
“I went onto YouTube,” Dean said. The video he pulled up had the traditional “hoo hoo” owl noises, but also squawks and squeals.
“Squeal - that sound. It would screech to it every time, so it was actually answering,” Dean said.
But that didn’t have any effect on getting the owl out of the chimney.
They said they tried calling Fish and Wildlife and animal rescues, but no one was available over the weekend. A private firm that was available quoted a fee of $900.
“I was actually trying to think of getting it myself, and when I saw the talons, I thought that’s it. I mean they’re huge. They’re huge,” Dean said. “That’s out of my league. It would be from here to the ER,” he said.
Their neighbor and friend Marie Mihail shared their predicament on Nextdoor – and dozens of people replied to help.
“I posted this little picture of the owl peering down and it was amazing. Instant response,” Mihail said.
One of the responses was Larry Broder, who used to work for Fish and Wildlife and owned owls for decades.
“I got the call and came over,” Broder said.
“When I got here and stuck my head up there, I saw this big foot,” he said. “Sometimes I saw the bird was upside down, right side up.”
Armed with some leather gloves, Broder said he finally saw a foot low enough to grab. And less than a minute later – Broder pulled out the large owl, with about a five foot wingspan.
“Oh my gosh, ohh so beautiful,” you hear someone say in the background of a video.
The bird – who Mihail promptly named “Ollie,” was in good shape, despite spending four days stuck in the chimney.
“It was like magic. It was the most beautiful thing to see,” she said.
She said neighbors were all so delighted by the story, she had to share.
“In these days, it’s dark times in many ways,” Mihail said.
“It’s just been incredible to see that theme of humanity, people being grateful that neighbors come together,” she said. “We need that right now,” she said.
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