6 min read

Owl Saved From Glue Trap Isn't Happy He Has To Take A Bath

He wasn't impressed — but he felt so much better in his little towel afterwards.

The screech owl had gotten himself into a very sticky situation. He’d landed in a glue trap and now he was stuck — he couldn’t move his feathers or feet, and he definitely couldn’t fly away.

If no one found the owl, he would have died in there. But thankfully, someone saw him.

“A local citizen found the owl in an area near her house,” Courtney Gerspacher, lead animal care technician at Florida Wildlife Hospital, told The Dodo. “She wasn’t the one who put out the glue trap, but she did find the owl in it.”

Injured screech owl in carrier
The screech owl shortly after he arrived at the animal hospital | Florida Wildlife Hosptial

The woman managed to gently remove the screech owl from the glue trap and took him to Florida Wildlife Hospital where he could receive professional care.

“He did not look too good when he first came in,” Gerspacher said. “He was definitely very, very sticky, and you could tell that he’d tried to preen himself and clean off his feathers because his mouth was covered in glue, his head was covered in glue and he couldn’t even open his feet — they were so tacky.”

Screen owl after getting bath
The screech owl getting a bath to remove the glue from his feathers | Florida Wildlife Hospital

Fortunately, though, he hadn’t been injured.

“Luckily, he hadn’t broken anything, and there weren’t any visible skin tears,” Gerspacher said. “A lot of times when animals are stuck in glue traps, they will pull so hard, they will literally break their own bones trying to get free. So he didn’t look too bad … but he didn’t look happy.”

Before the owl tried to preen himself again, Gerspacher gave him a bath.

Screech owl getting a bath
Florida Wildlife Hospital

“We start off with an oil bath,” Gerspacher said. “The easiest way to get that tacky substance off of their feathers or skin is to use oil … vegetable oil, canola oil. We use that, avoiding their eyes, of course, and just soak the bird, and work that oil into their feathers.”

After getting a good soaking in oil, the caretakers bathed the owl with Dawn dish soap and water. While Gerspacher doubts the owl enjoyed any of this, she could tell that he felt better afterwards.

Screech owl wrapped up in towel
The owl wrapped up in a towel after his bath | Florida Wildlife Hospital

“After his first bath, he was able to move his feet,” Gerspacher said. “He was no longer lying down, and he was a bit feistier. We also rehydrated him and gave him something to eat.”

For the next week, the owl got a bath once a day until every bit of glue was gone. “Usually one bath does not do it because they have so much oil,” Gerspacher said. “So it’s a very long process.”

Rescued owl in kennel
The owl after getting some of the glue cleaned from his feathers | Florida Wildlife Hospital

But it was all worth it. The owl was eventually moved to an outdoor enclosure, where he could practice his flying — and he excelled at it.

Screech owl being placed in outdoor enclosure
The owl being moved to the outdoor enclosure | Florida Wildlife Hospital

“He did lose a couple of flight feathers, but he proved to us that he was able to fly out in the screen owl cage and catch live prey,” Gerspacher said.

On Monday, the team released the owl back into the wild, close to where he was initially found.

Screech owl sitting in tree
The owl after being released back into the wild | Florida Wildlife Hospital

“It’s amazing, because a lot of times you don’t always get a happy ending,” Gerspacher said. “It’s literally a miracle that that owl made it.”

To help the Florida Wildlife Center rescue other animals, including owls, opossums and turtles, you can make a donation.