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Hero Rescuer Saves Starving Owl Trapped in Tarneit Bunnings for Nine Days

Owl rescued from Bunnings

A starving and ill owl, trapped inside a Bunnings store in Tarneit, Melbourne, for nine days, has been rescued just in time. The owl, which had been trapped in the store for over a week, was freed by wildlife rescuer Nigel Williamson, who believes it would not have survived another night.

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Nigel Williamson, a wildlife rescuer with over thirty years of experience, found the owl after it had spent nine days in the store’s rafters and shelves. “I know these are beautiful creatures, but anyone who knows birds can see how sick this owl is,” Mr Williamson said. The owl had lost more than half of its body weight. “Normally they are bright and looking up, but this bird was compromised; it was under 50 per cent its normal body weight,” he added.

Mr Williamson has saved four barn owls from Melbourne warehouses in the past fortnight alone. He explained that owls often enter warehouses after being chased by ravens, usually because they tried to steal chicks or eggs from ravens’ nests.

Owl rescue bunnings Tarneit

On Thursday evening, Mr Williamson arrived at the store around 7 pm and expected to wait until 9 pm, after customers had left, to use a scissor lift to reach the owl. However, he found the bird resting on a lower shelf and managed to capture it before 8 pm. He stated that the owl would have likely died if it had spent another night without food. “A bird needs to eat a third of its size every day to survive, and after three days without food, it would already have been compromised,” he explained.

Mr Williamson suggested that warehouses facing similar issues should leave small amounts of cubed meat in high places to help the animal survive until a rescue can be organised. He also recommended installing skylights that could be opened to help birds find their way out.

According to Mr Williamson, a bird’s personality often determines how long a rescue can take, and he claims to be successful about 98 per cent of the time. He praised Bunnings management, saying they had “done everything right” and were in contact with Wildlife Victoria from the beginning.

Owl rescued Tarneit bunnings

Before the rescue, Bunnings regional manager Barbara Mclatchie confirmed that the Tarneit store had engaged local animal welfare groups to ensure the owl was relocated as soon as possible, with the team ready to assist after hours if needed.

A Wildlife Victoria spokeswoman said the owl was first reported to their Emergency Response Service on May 9. “We were in regular contact with Tarneit Bunnings and provided advice to encourage the owl out of the store or to engage a paid animal removal service,” the spokeswoman said. “Turning off all internal lights, opening all doors and windows, and leading the animal towards external openings with food is often the best option and most stress-free solution for the animal. If uninjured, most native animals will make their way out of buildings when provided the opportunity to do so. When this method is unsuccessful, we recommend enlisting a paid service due to the complexity involved in rescuing flighted species who will often fly away from rescuers unless specialised equipment is utilised.”

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