Wildlife rehabilitation & release
Once again it has been a very busy year in the sanctuary’s hospital unit. In the few weeks running up to Christmas, during the cold snap, we were inundated with wild owl admissions. During times of snow and extremely cold weather British owls struggle to find enough food to sustain themselves because when there is snow on the ground many rodents will stay hidden underground. Therefore owls are forced to hunt outside of their territories, often encroaching onto roadsides and other dangerous hunting grounds; consequently some are involved in road traffic accidents or fly into fences etc. If they are lucky they get picked up by caring members of the public and brought into our hospital unit for treatment.
During 2010 we had 21 tawny owls admitted of which 7 died, but 14 were released back into the wild. We had 7 barn owls admitted of which 3 died and 4 were released. We had 6 baby tawnies admitted and in previous years this figure has been much higher and it might suggest that the message is starting to get across to the public so just to reiterate please don’t pick up baby tawnies over the next few months even if they are on the ground. They are simply branching out from the nest and will return when ready, completely unaided. A tawny owl baby was once witnessed climbing the height of a telegraph pole to get back to its nest just using its beak and talons! Anyway, I’m pleased to report that all six babies we had brought in were successfully kept wild and released during September of last year.
One particularly unusual admission was a short eared owl admitted on 26th October who was found injured in the road in Hughtown, St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly. It was treated for a broken wing by the local vets and after contacting us to see if we would admit it to our care, was flown over to Penzance and brought in by the vets mother who lives locally. I am delighted to say that despite having to have its wing amputated it has recovered well and will have an aviary of its own soon.
In summary, we are delighted that we managed to return 18 out of the 28 owls which were admitted during 2010 (especially when we reflect on some of the horrific injuries many of the owls came in with!) to the wild, which proves a successful year for the hospital unit. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support, without which it would not be possible to carry out this important work.
A short clip of a Tawny Owl release at Porthtowan:
A short clip of a barn owl release at Castle & Dinas: