Achieving Conservation Goals...

OK, we may not be scoring too highly on the soccer pitch at present, but there are some goals we are able to achieve on the conservation front!

We have often reported on the work that we do in our raptor hospital here at S.O.S., but our aim to aid the conservation of birds of prey also extends much further afield and part of our job is to be on hand to answer queries from members of the public who have seen a bird they can’t identify or need information or help with some kind of raptor dilemma.

We think our French friend was a Buzzard, who when mature will
look something like our own Common Buzzard, Ash

One email we received recently came from a lady who lives in France.  She and her husband had found a nest that had clearly not been visited for some time but had an abandoned young Buzzard in it.  Having only been able to gain the most basic information for the bird’s care, the lady then emailed us asking what on earth she should do next, as she was worried that the bird would become dependent on her for food and would not learn to hunt for itself.

Andy phoned the lady and enquired about the age of the bird, which was only a youngster - probably around 6 or seven weeks old - and how she was caring for it, so that he could advise her of the steps to take next.  As the bird was at that time being kept in a barn, Andy suggested that the lady and her husband build a 3 foot square, wooden hack box with a meshed, open front on hinges.  The box would then need to be screwed to the side of the barn, where the buzzard would get the benefit of the early morning sun, but would be sheltered from the hot afternoon sun.  He suggested that it be placed about 8 foot up, as this would make it a manageable height for feeding the bird and also be a suitable height for its first flight – not too far to fall!

The next step will be to keep the bird in the hack box and feed it in there for around ten to fourteen days, before opening the front of the box and allowing the Buzzard to practise its flying skills. It will be necessary then, to continue to feed the bird in the hack box, so that it has a focal place for food.  Gradually, as the bird’s flying skills improve, it should start hunting for small prey, such as frogs, insects and small mammals and will gradually become less dependent on the food left for it in the barn.  Over time, it should be evident that the bird is not coing back every day, until eventually it will become self sufficient and be able to fend for itself properly in its natural environment.

Hopefully our diagnosis and advice will prove successful and we’ll let you know how things progress when we receive further news.