Rescued Barn Owl

31 October 2019 by Jayne Bird

Imagine my surprise when late one afternoon towards the end of October I received a telephone call asking if I could care for a Barn Owl some friends had found whilst out walking their dog on the downs.

The Barn Owl was discovered on the edge of an area of conifers and appeared to be extremely cold with a damaged wing. The gentleman picked it up without a struggle and tucked it inside his jacket to keep it calm and warm. When they arrived at their car, they gave me a call to enquire if I could have a look and see what could be done to help the Barn Owl, I asked them to bring it along to me at AV headquarters and offices.

About twenty minutes later they arrived, where I had a large carrier waiting with a heat pad. Without trying to stress the Barn Owl I did a quick assessment and immediately realised I needed to get him to our vet. Arriving at our local vets I explained what had happened and where he had been found and they told me they would give me a call to let me know what their diagnosis was and whether they would need to keep him for observation or if he could be returned to me to be cared for.

About an hour later I received a call from the veterinary nurse to say that he had concussion and a very badly bruised wing but no broken bones and was ready for collection and assured me that by keeping him warm and lots of building up over the next few weeks he would be ok to be released!

My contact with the owl was limited but I ensured he was kept warm and within two days he came out of concussion and was feeding himself, although he still had a slight dropped wing. Over the following weeks his wing improved immensely, and he started to exercise the wing. Imagine my delight when I went into the aviary to place his food to discover him fly pass my head out into the run at the front and land on a perch. I had avoided making unnecessary contact and only visiting to place his food at night and of course to clean him out at weekends and although the food was disappearing and his wings were both now in place, until now I was unsure of his ability to fly.

I kept him a further week before releasing him back to the site he was found. It was such a delight to take him from the carrier after he had tried to convince me he was dead by falling on his back, which I found extremely amusing especially as his claws where clasped tightly around my leather gloves. (Something various birds of prey do instinctively, hoping it will give them an opportunity to escape). Realising we were in the open countryside he sat upright, alert and eager to take his next step back into the wild. He flew away stopping briefly on a fence post to get his bearings and then he was up and away across the downs.

Although I was ecstatic that he was back in familiar surroundings and all was well, there was a tinge of sadness I felt having cared for him for so many weeks.