(Photo courtesy of Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois)
Here's a cautionary tale on why it's important to assess the situation when cutting down trees, and it comes courtesy of the folks at the Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois and Oak Bros Tree Removal and Stump Grinding.
You see, these guys were tasked Thursday with cutting down an old, dead tree in central Illinois. But as they got to work, they realized there was something standing in their way: An Eastern screech owl that had taken up residence inside a cavity.
"Unfortunately, the hole to the cavity was too small for even a small hand to reach in," the Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois wrote on Facebook.
The cavity was about 15 feet off the ground and knowing how delicate of an operation this would be, the lumberjacks reached out to the wildlife rehabbers.
"Our veterinarian and another volunteer were onsite during the cutting and removal process," the clinic said. "They actually delayed their work for a couple of hours just so we could be there."
To save the owl, they carefully removed the section of tree that contained the owl.
Minus some sawdust in the eye, the owl was described as "completely healthy."
"We aren’t often able to do rescues in person due to being volunteer run, but this was just down the road!" the clinic wrote on Facebook.
So what's next for the owl?
After spending Thursday night with a good meal and a warm enclosure, the plan is to release him tonight.
"We try to do it towards the evening wth nocturnal species," the wildlife group said.
While this has a happy ending, it also serves as a reminder to be careful when cutting down trees. Primary cavity nesters, such as woodpeckers, typically excavate their own nest sites. Secondary cavity nesters, such as screech owls, use natural cavities and abandoned woodpecker excavations.