ATLANTA, Ga. — A Georgia woman was shocked after she found an owl inside her Atlanta home a few weeks ago.

This is the only way Harriet Fairley could describe what she saw.

“I was so amazed. I was, I mean this is like a dream,” she said.

At first, she wasn’t sure what was moving in the fireplace in her bedroom.

“It caught my eye. I wasn’t sure what it was, or if I had seen something,” she said. “So, I proceeded to get a small flashlight. and I went to the fireplace, and I shined the light behind the picture frame and two big ole eyes were looking back up at me.”

A huge owl, like those she had seen a few years ago on a fence outside her home, had made its way inside Ms. Fairley’s bedroom fireplace chimney and apparently had gotten stuck.

Ms. Fairley wasn’t sure who to call. She started making calls for help and got the Urban Wildlife Program of Georgia. They sent out Matt Leo, who quickly got to work.

“He had to stick his hands up there, and he saw his feet. He grabs his feet and gently pulled him down. Because he didn’t know if he was injured or anything like that,” Fairley said. “When he pulled him out, that’s when I screamed. Matt was smiling, and he was like ‘take a picture.'”

And a picture it was, showing the sheer size of the owl.

Matt Leo holding the owl that was found in Harriet Fairley’s chimney (photo provided by Harriet Fairley)

“This time of year we see Barred Owls fall into the chimneys as they are looking for new nesting sites. He is completely unharmed. Wings are in great shape,” Leo said.

When he released the owl, it immediately flew back to its tree.

“Small mammals rodents are their number one food. Item, and there’s lots of that in cities, and they they do very well living amongst us in the city,” said Kaitlin Goode with the Urban Wildlife Program.

But finding one inside a chimney is rare.

“We just have some bike gloves that we put on. That’ll protect us from the claws or a beak, and we get them to latch on and kind of gently pull as much as we can and pull them out that way,” Goode said.

One solution is to cover your chimney. Fairley said that is exactly what she is going to do because she knows the owls who live in the trees near her home.

“We can hear them at night talking, doing that whoo whoo whoo at night. We can hear them,” she said.

 For those who think city living means no problems, Fairley has this message.

“Don’t put anything past the fact that animals will wander into your yard or come down your chimney at any time,” she said.

The Urban Wildlife Program says owls are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.