A housesitter who found her friend’s Oak Bay home trashed over the weekend was surprised to see the culprit clawed, feathered and roosting on the dining room chandelier — the second such incident in recent days.
“There were lamps and a vase knocked over and pictures off the walls,” Tina Gaboury said, recalling the moments she walked into the Musgrave Street home, thinking it had been robbed, only to find a barred owl staring back at her.
“[My boyfriend and I] were kind of looking around to see if anything was stolen. All of a sudden, we noticed an owl perched on the chandelier in the dining room. So we were like, there’s the culprit there,” Gaboury said.
“We opened up some windows and doors and he was just sitting there. He wasn’t in distress or anything, he was just sitting there. We’re not sure how long he was in the house because [my friend and her family] left Thursday and I didn’t go over there till Sunday.”
She quickly called her brother-in-law Dan, who came over to assist in getting the owl, who would “just fly from one area of the dining room to the other,” out of the house safe and sound.
The group thinks the bird entered the home via its chimney after spotting black soot smudged on the walls and ceiling, Gaboury recalls.
“They’re cavity nesters, so they’re looking for a hole that they can perhaps put a nest in. It undoubtedly went down the hole trying to see whether this was suitable for a nest, only to there was no bottle to it whatsoever,” Ann Nightingale, a volunteer with Rocky Point Bird Observatory, told CHEK News.
“It can’t open its wings and fly back out, so it ends up down at the bottom and out the fireplace, usually leaving quite a mess behind,” Nightingale said, noting because the owl’s wing span is so big, just flying around indoors will likely cause it to knock things over.
Gaboury can attest to a mess.
“We were cleaning up and he was fine, so we Googled how to get an owl out because we didn’t want to hurt him and we didn’t want to get hurt either,” she said.
“Dan came over with some gloves and eventually put a towel over the owl and we carried him outside. We put him on the table on the outside deck and he just let us pet him.”
At first, the group thought the owl was missing an eye because one was shut, but later realized he was alternating which eye he closed.
“I don’t know if he was blinking at us or what he was doing, but he was good…he let us pet him and he was really soft,” Gaboury said. “He sat there for the longest time, and eventually, he just flew away.”
But this isn’t the first owl break-in in Oak Bay.
This past Friday, police responded to an intruder report at a Beach Drive home to discover a barred owl sitting on a couch, where it was captured on camera greeting them with a wink before flying away.
“It was crazy because when they said that the lady thought it was a home invasion, that’s exactly what it looked like when I went into my friend’s house,” Gaboury said, noting her first reaction was to call the police, then the fire department when finding the owl.
“But, like I said, he was just very laid back and casual. I don’t think he was in distress at all; he didn’t get hurt, nobody got hurt.”
While an uncommon occurrence, Nightingale says the unintentional barred owl break-in happens from time to time, especially after the bird, now quite popular in the capital region, was first spotted near Uptown in 1969.
“It was a really, really neat experience,” Gaboury added.