A screech owl got trapped in a chimney. Peering up with a flashlight, residents glimpsed the little owl, but when they got close, it hopped higher, onto the fire box, out of reach.
After five days, the resident was quite worried. She called Wildlife Emergency Services, which specializes in emergency response wildlife rescues, among other things. (Disclosure: I volunteer for WES.)
But they were 115 miles away. Knowing the owl must be hungry, WES director Rebecca Dmytryk made a suggestion: Go to the nearest pet store. Buy a bag of crickets. Put the container in the fireplace. See what happens.
The resident came back from the pet store, carrying a sack of crickets. Many were chirping. (“Hellooo, CRICKET LADIES!!! Any CRICKET LADIES out there? Sure would like to meet some CRICKET LADIES!!!”)
Before she got to the fireplace the owl was down and looking around avidly. (“I got yer CRICKET LADIES right here, fellas!”) Apparently for a hungry screech owl the sound of chirping crickets is as alluring as the sound of hamburgers sizzling on the open grill for Chuck Berry.
“It literally popped through the damper opening as I was approaching with the bag of crickets,” the resident told Dmytryk. “I hadn't even opened the bag, but they were chirping loudly!”
Also, at the Hungry Owl Project's suggestion, a dish of water had been put in the fireplace, and the owl had shown interest in this too. The advantage of crickets over cool clear water being that crickets have a sound track.
Meanwhile visitors from France, ignoring WildCare's “We don't name our patients” policy, had called the owl Bartholibou. (Hibou is owl in French, so: Bartholomew Owl. Ish. Esque.)
WildCare took Bartholibou into their expert care, fed and watered him, and checked to make sure he hadn't gotten injured in the chimney and could still fly proficiently. Meanwhile, heavy-duty wire mesh was installed over the attractive-nuisance chimney caps to keep Bartholibou or other inquisitive creatures from going in.
Bartholibou was set free.
None of the accounts say what happened to the crickets, but I bet they were set free too. “Cricket laaadies! Cricket laaadies! Boy do I have a story! You're gonna want to hear this! CRICKET LADIES!”