Poor Wolter

On Thursday 27th September we received a call from a lady just south of Bury St Edmunds who had found a Barn Owl in her garden. He was obviously in some distress but she had managed to pick him up and keep him warm and comfortable in a box in her boiler room. We collected "Wolter" (as she had named him) and gave him a thorough examination. Although whole in wing and limb poor Wolter had had a very nasty blow to the head. The skin around his right eye, ear and across the top of his beak was showing the pale green of bruising which could also be seen inside his ear and inside his mouth. He sat hunched and miserable in his box and we really thought he would not make it through the night. He was taken home overnight so that he could be watched and given some fluids to help get over the shock. However Friday morning dawned and Wolter was still with us - just. Our vet gave him a pain-killing injection and some intravenous fluids and we kept him on a heat blanket and hoped. Although we did not expect him to eat we left some food in the box with him overnight.

Much to our relief and delight Saturday morning showed us a very different Wolter. He had eaten his mouse and was standing upright again but poor Wolter now looked as if he had been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson - we have never seen a 'shiner' quite like it. The whole of the side of his face was black and blue - and red and yellow and purple and green!

So, what had happened to cause such bad injuries? Well, Wolter is only a few months old. He would have hatched during the summer and has probably only been fending for himself for a few weeks. Last week saw some fairly wild weather for late September and Barn Owls find it very difficult to cope with high winds. Although he has a wingspan of around 1 metre Wolter only weighed in at 242 gms. This combination makes Barn Owls very bouyant but unable to resist a strong gust of wind. We think that this was the first time in his short life that Wolter had encountered this type of weather and that a gust of wind had knocked him against the side of a building.

Wolter is one of the lucky ones. Lucky because the impact caused bruising rather than broken bones and lucky because someone was there to pick him up and pass him to us for treatment. He will need to stay with us for a little bit longer - until the bruising starts to fade and we are sure that there is no additional damage to his eye or ear. But we are now fairly confident that in another week or so we will be able to return him back to the wild. We'll keep you posted.