COEUR d'ALENE - Don and Sue Sausser got a rude awakening early Sunday morning when they found an owl in their living room.
It had flown in through the open sliding glass door of their 10th-story Lake Tower apartment in downtown Coeur d'Alene.
It left bird droppings all through the apartment, killed one of their canaries and slightly injured the other. When Sue discovered the brownish, yellow-eyed owl, it was between the wall and the chest of drawers on which the birdcage rests, but then flew out the door and perched on their balcony railing long enough to snap a few photos. Don estimated it to be about six to eight inches in height.
"There was a racket back over here, and I looked back there and there was the owl," she said, pointing to the area behind the chest. "Of course, he flew out, and I'm going, 'Oh,' and there's feathers all over, all over. I didn't realize a bird was gone."
They found their yellow canary dead in the corner of the wire birdcage. Their other canary was visibly shaken by the incident as it seemed jumpy and anxious, letting out loud, nervous chirps Sunday afternoon.
"Isn't it strange?" Sue asked. "Who would have thought?"
The wire birdcage has small entrances with doors that vertically slide when lifted. The owl would have had to somehow lift the door with its head, beak or talons to get to the songbirds. It had also knocked their water dish out of its place.
"It's the strangest thing I've ever heard of," said Beth Paragamian, wildlife education specialist for Idaho Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management. As an expert on North Idaho's birds, she said she was perplexed as to why the owl would be flying so high in an area without many tall trees and taken off guard that it would go through all the trouble of entering a human's home and opening a birdcage just to get to the canaries.
"That is very unusual," she said.
Paragamian has been sent the Sausser's images to help identify the species of owl.
"It's real strange to find one in your living room," Don said.
Although the uninvited guest will not deter the Saussers from taking in the fresh lake air, Don said the couple will be placing twist-ties on the birdcage just in case the hungry bird of prey remembers where they live and that the other canary is still alive.