Andy dons his tutor hat

You might be forgiven for thinking that looking after a few birds of prey would be quite a simple job.  After all, even in the wild raptors spend most of their time sitting around contemplating not very much at all.  But of course here at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary we have well over 80 birds of prey, from all the five raptor groups and all have different requirements, depending on both their species and their temperament.

Then of course there’s the hospital, where the falconers see all kinds of ailments and injuries.  Knowing how to handle birds under a variety of circumstances can be crucial to their survival!

With this in mind, last week our General Manager Andy welcomed a group of student vet nurses and their tutor to the Sanctuary.  They came from a local veterinary surgery who support the Centre by looking after our resident birds and any injured birds that come in to the hospital.  The students came for the morning to learn about the care and general husbandry of birds of prey, which included aspects such as correct handling, how to hood a bird to keep it calm and how to hold a bird correctly for examination by a vet.

Andy illustrates the intricacies of crop tubing to our guest students

Andy showed the students the Sanctuary’s rehabilitation aviaries and explained about the housing of birds of prey under veterinary treatment. They also had a look at the raptor hospital, where birds are brought initially for examination by a falconer. The students were able to see the equipment necessary for treating injured birds and to learn about the preliminary care birds are given before any necessary trips to the vets. Andy explained about the way records are kept of each bird, which can help to provide an insight into local raptor population trends amongst other things. He also gave a demonstration of crop tubing (see our blog 23/02/09), describing the importance of executing this procedure correctly and clarifying the reasons for needing this treatment - for example, if a bird is extremely weak, it may not have enough energy to digest solid food, which can lead to a nasty and potentially fatal condition called ‘sour crop’.

Hopefully the students had a good and instructive morning – Andy was certainly very pleased with the "thank-you" chocs and a bag of goodies for the hospital that they dropped off later on in the day!

Raptor releases continue

Andy releases one of the two tawnies, one of which
pauses for a quick look round before departure

We have had another two successful releases this week, which is really heart-warming to report.  This time it was a couple of Tawny Owls that thankfully didn’t need to be with us for too long.  They were both victims of RTA’s, one probably having been caught in the slip stream of a car and just requiring some rest and TLC and the other having a damaged eye.  Both recovered fully under the falconers’ watchful care and were released at the edge of a a nearby wooded area.