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Shropshire
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Rescued baby owls released back into the wild

Six young tawny owls have been safely released back into the wild after they are thought to have fallen out of trees during their ‘branching’ period as babies.

One of the baby owls. Photo: Cuan Wildlife Rescue
One of the baby owls. Photo: Cuan Wildlife Rescue

The owlets were taken in by Cuan Wildlife Rescue, before being moved to a site owned by Bradford Estates, where they were fed and looked after for three days before being let back into their natural habitat.

The feathered youngsters are thought to have fallen from trees while ‘branching’, which sees baby owls leave the nest to walk, climb, jump and flutter around in the trees at night.

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Unable to locate where the birds had originated from, Cuan fed and cared for the birds – which were aged between two and five weeks old – for a few months while the owlets developed their flight feathers.

The owls were then cared for in a purpose-built aviary by the Bradford Estates team shortly before they were released back into the wild at woodland near Shifnal.

Fran Hill, Hospital Manager at Cuan Wildlife Rescue, said: “We have owls come to us for a range of reasons, but most of the tawny owls come to us after they have lost their footing while branching and have fallen out of a tree.

“In most situations, we return the owlets to their nests, but it’s not always possible – such as when people find them and bring them in, but then can’t remember which tree they found them under. Unfortunately, we were unable to put these owlets back.

“Owls are very amenable creatures to care for and they’re very happy to be hand-fed very quickly. They also learn to feed themselves very quickly, meaning they can then be moved outside. They’re lovely animals to care for.

“Because owls don’t fly when it’s raining for fear of getting waterlogged and grounded, the dense canopy of the woodland where they have been released is ideal shelter and there’s so much food for them there.

“Thank you to Bradford Estates for letting us use their land and for their help to release the owls.”

The release of the young birds was part of a new partnership between Bradford Estates and the Much Wenlock-based animal rescue centre charity this summer.

Cuan Wildlife Rescue costs £360,000 a year to run and is reliant entirely on charity donations.

Rob Paul, Estates Director, said: “These little tawny owls had been with Cuan Wildlife Rescue for quite a while.

“The charity approached us and asked if we could help with their release into an area which they had previously looked around and said would be ideal for them. They had previously struggled to find suitable locations for animal releases.

“After keeping the owls in the aviary and feeding them for a few days, we opened up the hatch to allow them to leave – but kept it open for a while too, in case they needed to come back. By the following day, they had all gone.”

Bradford Estates has also installed a number of owl boxes to aid in their shelter. 

Rob added that the partnership with Cuan had come about following the increase of animals being handed into the charity during lockdown, due to a rise in people being out and about in nature – so Bradford Estates was keen to do whatever it could to assist them.

Cuan Wildlife Rescue cares for and rehabilitates sick, injured and orphaned wild animals and birds. It is the only wildlife rescue centre in Shropshire to offer a round-the-clock service. Every animal receives first aid and if required, veterinary treatment. Once they’re well enough, the charity returns the animals to the wild. 

The charity welcomed a record number of 5,740 animals last year – over 1,000 more than the previous year.

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