A BARN owl that “flew the nest” has been returned home — after it spent days fending for itself around Bolton.

Bird lover Andrew Ridyard, aged 28, was flying his feathery female friend in his garden in Moorside Avenue, Farnworth, on May 21 when it was spooked by a loud noise and flew off.

After The Bolton News appealed to the public to look out for the owl, several residents called to say they had spotted her at locations across the borough.

Mr Ridyard initially remained upbeat about his chances of finding the bird.

But after a week passed without her returning home he admitted that time was running out and that he was concerned she would starve or be attacked by larger predators.

But thanks to a group of helpful Bolton residents, the owl has now been returned to Mr Ridyard.

The owl had was found by Paul Arcus, who shared The Bolton News article on Facebook, stating that he had found the bird.

After seeing the post, former RSPCA worker Lynn Nuttall got involved.

She contacted Mr Arcus and with her friend Anne Allwood they arranged to collect the owl the next day from a house in Astley Bridge — more than six miles away from Mr Ridyard’s home.

Mrs Nuttall, aged 52, from Harwood, said: “We went round with a dog cage and were easily able to coax her inside, because she was very tame. We knew that we had to get her home as quickly as possible so she could be fed properly.

“When we took her back to Andrew, who we had been in constant contact with, we were all overwhelmed and there were even tears — it is absolutely amazing that this bird survived for nine days on its own, particularly when it is feeding season for other predators.”

Also involved in the safe return of the bird was RSPCA officer Julie Ashcroft.

After being re-united with his avian acquaintance, Andrew said he was “buzzing”.

He added: “I want to thank everyone involved, she was in a terrible state when she came back but after getting her fed up she is now back to normal, it is great and i’m really grateful.”