Who, who, who came into a Duluth coffee roasting center without an invitation?
Turns out, it was a snowy owl that somehow made its way in through an exhaust venting system at Alakef Coffee, rustling in a barrel-like cylinder that collects chaff as roasted coffee is cooled.
Master roaster Ezra Bennett heard something rustling around inside on Wednesday afternoon and opened a lower panel to check it out.
“I saw feathers, I saw wings, she started flapping,” Bennett said. Not knowing the best way to remove an undoubtedly frazzled owl, he put the panel door back on and went to get help.
Staff called in the local Wildwoods wildlife rehabilitation center, and director Farzad Farr came to the rescue himself.
Video shows Farr reaching in with jute coffee bags to collect the bird, then gently pulling it out to the amazement of the employees watching.
“Wow!” someone said. “Beautiful!”
The large owl was trapped in a cone-like sphere that made it impossible to spread its wings and it had nothing to grab onto to claw its way out, Bennett said. The bird was lucky that, after somehow getting into the vent stack that extends some 30-feet into the air, it fell into the cooling vent instead of a hot roasting vent, Bennett said.
The owl was a bit skinny, though not nearly as emaciated as Farr has seen other owls, he said. He took the bird back to the rehabilitation center where staff kept it warm and gave it fluids, then fed it “predigested” food that would be easy on the owl’s stomach.
A volunteer took the bird to the Raptor Center in St. Paul on Thursday.
Farr said his center has seen a “huge number increase of snowy owls coming to us this year.”
Snowy owls descend from Canada in cycles, he said: “It mostly has to do with the scarcity of food. The younger ones usually come down south in search of food.”
How one ended up inside a Duluth coffee roasting facility, nobody knows.
“I don’t know why it went down the venting system. I have no idea,” Farr said. “Maybe sat on the edge and then fell in? It’s not like they’re chimney dwellers.”
Bennett said the bird was covered in coffee dust and oils, and the staff nicknamed it Mokka, after the Yemeni port famous for coffee exports in the 17th century.
The feathered beauty may smell like coffee for a while, Farr said, but he believes the bird will recover nicely from its factory tour.