WATCH: Man rescues baby owl stuck for hours in tree

An Iowa man rescued a baby owl that was stuck in a tree for hours.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 10:27 AM PDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/Gray News) - While many people spent Memorial Day morning preparing for a parade or cookout, the owner of a tree removal service in Iowa was saving a baby owl.

Ed Gregory owns the tree removal service in Council Bluffs.

Several weeks ago, he was tasked with removing a dying, hazardous tree from someone’s front yard, when he found a barred owl nest.

“It’s a protected species, so I told them we couldn’t remove the tree. We’re going to have to wait until they hatch and fly away,” Gregory told WOWT. “So, we took off the hazardous limbs, and I’ve been checking up on the owls about weekly.”

As the owl eggs hatched and grew, Gregory monitored them, giving updates on the baby birds for the neighborhood, which quickly got invested in their well-being.

But on Memorial Day, Gregory’s update was worrisome.

“I came by [Monday] morning and saw one hanging by its foot out of the edge of the nest,” he said. “It couldn’t have been there for more than at least 24 hours, I drove by there [Sunday] evening about 8 o’clock and it wasn’t there, so sometime between 8 o’clock [Sunday] night and noon [Monday] is when it fell.”

One of the baby owls had successfully left the nest, but the other one got stuck.

“It was in a knothole of a tree, and the knot had a crack down it that was maybe a half-inch wide, maybe less, a quarter-inch, something like that,” he said. “And its foot was caught in there and it was hanging upside down, and I went up in the bucket truck and just grabbed its wings, folded them in, held the owl, and then I just broke the edge of the tree off and pulled him loose.”

Gregory took the bird home, taking care of it until Raptor Conservation Alliance was able to pick it up.

The organization said they suspect the owl has a dislocated leg, and they plan on caring for the bird until he makes a full recovery.

They also said this isn’t the first barred owl of the season they’ve cared for. Several already have been blown out of their nests by the wind.

Gregory said in his line of work, this isn’t the first time he’s seen something like this.

“We just had Raptor Rescue out here three weeks ago for a red-tailed hawk,” he said. “I relocated a dove nest last week in a tree we had to take out.”

Gregory said he knows not everyone loves when trees are removed, but sometimes it’s necessary, especially when they risk falling on homes because of damage or rotting.

He said he and his team will always do what they can to protect wildlife around them.

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