Owl in the house

This owl sits on a chair in the Ralphs’ living room on Mercer Island. - Melissa Ralph/Reader photo
This owl sits on a chair in the Ralphs’ living room on Mercer Island.
— image credit: Melissa Ralph/Reader photo

After hearing a scratching noise for a couple of days in their chimney, Michael and Melissa Ralph, who live near Ellis Pond, opened the flue expecting a small animal to fall out. Used to a good deal of animal life in their neighborhood, the couple was surprised to be faced with two large dark eyes and a shower of gray feathers in the chimney. Even after phone calls to the zoo, wildlife agencies and the Audubon Society, the couple did not have a clear idea of what to do. Melissa Ralph, a seventh-grade teacher at Islander Middle School, asked her students what they should do. The students had many suggestions (some involving guns), but the Ralphs opted to wait and see if the owl would leave on its own. After five days, they became worried that the bird would starve and hatched a plan to coax it out. They bought a white mouse at Petco and took the flue apart. The bird then came into the house on his own and perched on nearly every piece of furniture in two rooms. It eventually glided out the front door, tempted by the mouse in the jar. The decoy was returned to Petco the next day, unharmed.

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