MULBERRY – There’s an old joke about firefighters in small towns with very fire fires, who are quick to respond to calls of a cat stuck high in a tree, needing to be rescued.
This week, there was a variation of that story in Polk County, where an injured owl actually did get rescued by Polk County firefighters.
The owl, which has been given to the Woodland Wonders Wildlife Rehabilitation Service so it can be treated and rehabilitated, probably owes its life to those firefighters. They pulled the injured owl from a small pool of water Monday morning near Mulberry.
Kevin Watler, communications specialist for the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, reported that around 7:30 a.m. Monday, Polk Fire’s Station 710 in the Willow Oak area got a call about an owl that was trapped in a man’s pool.
“The resident wasn’t sure who to contact, so he called Polk County Fire Rescue,” Watler noted.
Capt. James Towns, Engineer Darren Monk and Firefighter James Parker went to the home on Bailey Road in Mulberry, where they found the owl stuck in about a foot of water, with one claw tangled in a tarp. The owl was caught there and unable to fly.
“The firefighters entered the pool and removed the bird, but then noticed the owl was injured,” Watler reported.
They were able to safely remove the injured owl from the spot, and the firefighters then contacted Woodland Wonders to collect the bird for rehabilitation.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that the barn owl lives in most parts of Florida, but is most often observed in Central and South Florida. The barn owl can be found inhabiting urban areas with a large number of palm and large hardwood trees, but it’s also attracted to manmade structures like barns and abandoned buildings.
“Barn owls forage voraciously for rodents in open areas such as prairies, pastures, fields, and sparsely wooded areas,” the commission notes on its website. “Barn owls in Florida breed from March through July and nest in secluded places like caves, barns, tree cavities, and large birdhouses.”
Woodland Wonders Wildlife Rehabilitation provides care for injured animals, including birds, in Polk County. To report an injured animal to them, call 863-967-3298.
To learn more about reporting an injured animal in the rest of Central Florida, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 352-732-1225.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Koby’s New Home”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.