Tawny Owl

rescue 2020

Photo - Easter weekend, 9-14 April 2020, at Mignaval

Liz’s diary of our rescue of this tawny owl

This Barn Owl Trust video showed us what to do.
Dan at the Secret World Animal Shelter gave us the confidence that we were following the instructions correctly.
Go to the Owl rescue photo album
or return to the 2020 photos page
A neighbour came knocking on our door about 6.15 pm. He was visibly upset because he had found a tawny owl in distress along a track at Beal Bas. I said we would go and see if we could help the owl and we quickly set off with the cat box.
We found the bird in a shallow brook and Chester climbed down and collected it. It appeared to be totally exhausted but with no immediate signs of injury.
On returning home we decided the best solution that evening was to put the cat box in our small back bedroom and shut the shutter to reduce stress on the owl.

Surprised to find the bird had survived the night and our next thoughts were how to help it. The rescue centre at Clermont-Ferrand was closed due to upgrading work and Covid-19.
Chester then started to use the internet and found a very useful article on the Barn Owl Trust website telling us how to hold, rehydrate and feed an exhausted owl.
I also suggested contacting Secret World Animal Shelter close to where we used to live. Chester phoned up the centre and spoke to Dan, their Hospital & Casualty Section Leader.
Meanwhile I thawed out some minced beef and prepared a solution of sugared water, luckily we had a small pipette left over from some cat medication.

We then took the owl up to the top floor of the sheep house outbuilding and after an examination which appeared to show there was no obvious injury we proceeded to do what was instructed on the website.
We rolled the owl up in a towel making sure its legs were out straight and tightly wrapped and it appeared to almost go into a trance. Next Chester put it’s head back and opened its beak while I put the pipette to the side and back of its throat and released some sugar solution. Much to our surprise it swallowed this and we proceeded to give it about 2cc’s of this liquid. I then placed small lumps of mince in the back of its throat and it also swallowed this. It ate about a match box size amount of meat.
We then released it and it scrabbled to a corner of the room. We were still concerned it might have a broken wing or leg at this stage as there was some broken twigs under its left wing which Chester removed.
We fed it 3 times during the day and it started to get stronger. We tried to release it that evening but it didn’t have the strength to fly so we decided to continue to do what we were doing for the next few days.

We continued to repeat the meals and the owl definitely was getting stronger. We were both very concerned that when Chester picked it up there was a loud cracking sound from its wings (? Broken). Chester spoke to Dan again and was reassured that its joints were probably just popping because of lack of flight, what a relief!
It was best stewing steak for food that day.

Continuing as before with a diet of fresh chicken pieces. It was getting much stronger and more alert. I thought maybe a branch would be a good idea for it to perch on and we found a good branch out in the forest and fixed it up about 15 cm. above the floor. After a feed we put it on the branch and could see that it seemed able to perch ok.

Went up the stairs in the morning and found it had been perching on the back of one on the chairs and it flew down and back to its hiding corner. This was very encouraging as it appeared its wings were fine and that both legs were working.
Feeding regime continued but only 2 meals as it did not seem so hungry and we progressively reduced the sugar content in the water.
We decided to possibly try and release it on Tuesday evening at dusk.

We fed it as normal and It was perched on the back of the chair all day and was very perky.
At dusk we removed the windows at the front of the room and when it saw the clear opening it flew at great speed out of the window and off into the trees at the end of the garden. It was a very emotional moment.

This was a truly amazing experience and one that will remain as one of the greatest moments of our lives.
A really happy event at a time when there is so much sadness in the world.

Liz - 20 April 2020

Go to the Owl rescue photo album
or return to the
2020 Photos page