Tragic twist after Bunnings shopper makes 'sad' discovery in roof

Rescuer Nigel Williamson believes simple steps could have prevented the heartbreaking outcome after the owl was seen inside the hardware store in Melbourne's west.

Rescuer Nigel Williamson holds a large net up to the owl (left). He gently take it out of the net in the Tarneit Bunnings store (right).
Rescuer Nigel Williamson was able to capture the owl in 'one swoop' in Tarneit's Bunnings store last Thursday. Source: Supplied

A barn owl stuck in the roof of a Bunnings store for nine days has died from starvation after finally being rescued. Nigel Williamson was called into the Bunnings Tarneit store in Melbourne's west on Thursday night after Yahoo News inquired about the animal, which was spotted by a concerned shopper.

When he arrived, the bird was in the "perfect" position for the experienced rescuer to capture it after Bunnings staff were unable to. However, Williamson was told he would need to wait until the store had closed to use the scissor lift operator for safety reasons.

"I went to show [other rescuers] where the bird was and it was gone. It had flown off from that perfect spot that it was in ... it was frustrating. Time is crucial," Williamson told Yahoo News over the weekend.

Luckily, the owl eventually landed on a lower beam and after "one swoop" of his net, it was caught by Williamson. However, he quickly discovered the owl was less than 50 per cent of its average body weight and, deeply concerned, rushed it to an emergency vet.

Nigel Williamson holds up the owl in the Bunnings store (left). The owl looks severely underweight (right).
The owl was severely underweight when it was rescued, with Williamson rushing to an emergency vet. Source: Supplied

Within 45 minutes of Williamson's arrival, the owl died from starvation. The rescuer explained that the environment it was left in did not have sufficient food sources to keep the bird alive.

"A bird has got to eat a third of its body weight every day to survive. So three days for a bird with no food or water is compromised already. And this one had been in there for nine days," the rescuer said.

Wildlife Victoria claims it told Bunnings to put out food, however, Bunnings denies this. It is understood Bunnings had attempted to reach wildlife experts to help rescue the bird, but due to availability, no one attended the store until Williamson was contacted last Tuesday.

"The message I want to get out here is that if you have a bird in a building, it's imperative that you get it out as quickly and as soon as possible for the bird's welfare," Nigel said.

The rescuer advocates for warehouses to have a simple design feature that allows a section of the roof to be opened to help the bird free itself, or at the "very least" provide cubed meat somewhere to help the bird survive while a rescue is being organised.

Bunnings has expressed its sadness over the owl's death and said staff did everything possible to care for the bird.

"We're saddened to hear about the owl and we thank our Tarneit store team for their work contacting a range of wildlife organisations over several days and following their guidance," Barb Mclatchie, Bunnings Regional Manager, told Yahoo News.

The barn owl can be spotted high above boxes in the Bunnings store (left) before it flew down to a lower section (right).
The barn owl flew from a high beam to a lower section of the store where it was rescued. Source: Supplied

After the owl was spotted last week, Yahoo News contacted Wildlife Victoria after Bunnings confirmed it had reached out for advice about the bird. It was explained the rescue of mobile birds is "tricky" as they often fly away from rescuers and specialised equipment.

"In these situations, it is common for Wildlife Victoria to recommend a paid animal rescue contractor. The high ceilings at Bunnings coupled with the number of people in the store will make this a particularly challenging case," a spokesperson said.

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