A great horned owl entangled in string or fishing line tries to fly from Shaun Sears, of Cat Canopy Rescue, at the Everett Marina on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A great horned owl entangled in string or fishing line tries to fly from Shaun Sears, of Cat Canopy Rescue, at the Everett Marina on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Entangled great horned owl rescued from tree top

EVERETT — Gregg Martin was at work detailing a boat Wednesday afternoon when he noticed a tussle in a nearby treetop.

A heron was clashing with another bird in a pine tree at Jetty Landing Park, where the ferry leaves for Jetty Island.

As Martin looked closer, he realized a great horned owl was stuck in the tree. The heron flew off, but the big brown owl, with distinctive “horns” of darker feathers on its head, was trapped. Some kind of cord, maybe heavy duty fishing line or kite string, was wrapped around the owl’s right wing and tangled in the narrow, spindly branches of the pine. The owl perched about 30 feet up with his wing stretched out and nearly immobile. The bird struggled but couldn’t break free.

It took tree-climbing equipment, a white sheet, an animal carrier, a big black net and a duo of animal rescuers, but about three hours after Martin spotted it, the owl was out of the tree and on its way to a veterinarian at Sarvey Wildlife Center in Arlington.

Martin had to head back to work and didn’t see the rescue play out, but he left hoping for the best.

“Such a pretty bird,” said Martin, who owns Gregg’s Detailing and often works near Jetty Landing. “I’d hate to see him get wasted.”

Kate Bouchard, a recent University of Washington graduate and an intern at Sarvey, arrived at the park with the animal carrier, towels, sheets and the knowledge to handle the bird. Not long after, Shaun Sears, with Canopy Cat Rescue, showed up with equipment and the expertise to get up the tree.

Sears sized up the pine: skinny with a lot of branches in the way. He put on a black helmet and fastened a belt loaded with climbing gear around his waist. He started up the tree and anchored himself with a length of sturdy rope, then continued climbing. Branches rattled and some fell to the ground as he ascended.

Bouchard watched, ready to help contain the owl if it fell. She wanted to take the bird to Sarvey as quickly as possible.

“Our vet is coming today, so (the owl) will get in and go straight back for care,” she said.

The owl sat stoically until Sears got close. It spooked as he worked to free it and escaped its higher perch. It landed on a lower branch in a neighboring tree, looking dazed.

Sears quickly lowered himself out of the first tree and grabbed a big black net. He lengthened the net’s handle until it could reach the 15 feet or so up to the owl.

The bird startled again when the net was brought near. It landed on the ground and hopped into the parking lot, still tangled in the line. Its right wing stretched out awkwardly. About a dozen people who had gathered to watch the rescue scattered as Sears and Bouchard called out for everyone to get back.

They netted the owl in the parking lot, loosely wrapped it in a sheet and eased it into the gray animal carrier.

The crowd breathed a sigh of relief. A few people clapped.

Sears told Bouchard he’d like an update on the owl as it heals, and she promised to let her boss at Sarvey know. Then she loaded the owl into her car and he put away his equipment.

Sears and his team handle rescues of cats in trees all over the state. He met the folks from Sarvey at an event and now the center calls for help with some rescues.

“Predominantly, we rescue cats, but we’ve done parrots, iguanas, kites,” Sears said. “Obviously, animals like this (owl) are a priority.”

Sarvey has a lot of barn owls at the center but this is the first great horned owl they’ve brought in since early this summer, when they cared for two owl chicks that recently were released, Bouchard said. She studied wildlife conservation at UW and learned to handle raptors at Sarvey. They see a lot of birds with wing injuries, head trauma or gunshot wounds.

She wasn’t able to tell the sex or age of the owl right away, only that it was an adult great horned owl. Parkgoers told her the owl has been seen flying or perched around the park in the past few weeks. Bouchard hopes the bird can be released there once it heals.

Martin, who first spotted the owl, said he would be waiting on news. He wasn’t sure if someone would come when he called for a rescue.

“It’s nice that someone gave a hoot,” he said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Josiah Degenstein
Lake Stevens man with alleged white supremacist ties faces gun charges

Storage units belonging to Josiah Degenstein contained multiple arsenals, according to police.

Maricel Samaniego, center, teaches English to Liedith Espana, left, and Nemecio Rios, right, at Liberty Elementary School in Marysville, Washington, on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. Marysville schools partner with Everett Community College to offer free English classes to parents of multilingual students. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Free English class helps Marysville parents lower language barrier

The school district partners with EvCC to teach practical classes on pronunciation, paperwork and parent-teacher conferences.

Firefighters works through rescue drills during the Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue’s annual Water Rescue Academy on the Skykomish River Thursday afternoon in Index, Washington on May 5, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish Regional Fire asks voters for two more commissioners

The district currently has seven commissioners, but it can keep only five. A Feb. 14 special election could change that.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

News logo for use with stories about coronavirus COVID-19 COVID
5 things to watch in Snohomish County as COVID public emergency ends

Snohomish County health care leaders shared what they’re concerned about when the federal emergency expires May 11.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

Most Read