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Bratchers rescue baby barn owl
Bratcher saves owl.jpg
Joseph Bratcher holds a baby barn owl that he and his wife rescued from the side of the road.

What is that white fluff ball by the road? With that question, a planned errand turned into a rescue of great heights.

On Saturday, Joseph and Staci Bratcher were on Pigeon Hill Road to buy baby chicks at a local farm when they saw the baby bird on the roadside.

“We called TWRA for help but our local guy was in Crossville that day,” said Staci. “After doing quick research, we knew we needed to place the baby back into the nest.”

Joseph headed back to their farm to fetch his construction ladder and go back to where they found the little fledging on the ground. The tree where the nest was located wasn’t too far. 

According to Staci, it looked to be over 100 years old and close to 30 feet tall. The tree was cut back by the county and the nest was about 15 feet high on a flat spot. 

To his surprise there was another baby owl in the nest. The nest consisted of hay, feathers and some of the down from the babies. At some point the escapee made an awful sound. “It sounded loud and other worldly,” said Joseph. 

The barn owl makes a screeching noise; they don’t hoot like most owls do.

“Joseph is always on the lookout to help people and animals,” shared Staci. “My husband is a modern-day hero!” 

One thing Joseph wanted to be sure to share is, “If you find a baby bird out of its nest it is OK to pick it up and put it back. It’s an old wives’ tale that your scent deters the mother bird in taking care of it. It will be OK.”

Barn owls are statewide residents of Tennessee but are highly elusive and rarely seen. They are also one of the most widely distributed birds in the entire world. The barn owl is easily identified by their beautiful plumage and heart-shaped face.