RSPCA officers watched the bird for several hours and were so worried it had not moved they called out the fire brigade.
But on closer inspection it was found to be a fake which phone company BT put on top of the pole, in Cordelia Crescent, Rayleigh, to stop birds perching there.
Carolyn Dyerson, 43, of Cordelia Crescent, said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes. The woman from the RSPCA had been sitting outside for two hours watching it. She thought it was real and had even brought a net with her to catch it. I felt like telling her it hadn’t moved in three weeks.”
Ms Dyerson said the owl was put on the pole by BT after her neighbour complained about bird muck landing on her car.
Southend’s aerial ladder platform was called in at 10.40am yesterday. Sub officer Paul Tregear said: “Just to make sure, the aerial ladder was called out to rescue this so-called owl. But we were told by neighbours it was a decoy. We obviously didn’t know this until we arrived.”
An embarrassed RSPCA was tipped off about the owl by a postman who said he had the seen the bird in the same position while on his rounds. RSPCA spokesman Klare Kennett said: “It’s not the first time we have been called to rescue an animal that isn’t real, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.”