A Lucky Buzzard!

The services of our Raptor Hospital are in constant demand as the weather improves and young wild owls and other birds of prey start to become active. Breeding is well under way throughout the wild bird population and that means more potential casualties on local roads, youngsters falling from trees and birds flying into windows!

A recent case, however, presented with a rather more unusual injury. About a month ago, a call was taken a from a member of the public who had come across a Common Buzzard lying in a secluded field. Alarmingly, the bird was not attempting to avoid human contact and appeared to have been immobile for some time.

On closer inspection, the gentleman realised that the buzzard was injured and bleeding from one wing. Having telephoned the sanctuary for advice, he was able to gently wrap the buzzard in a towel, place it in a box and bring it in to us.

The Buzzard is fast becoming a common
sight in the skies once again

On arrival the buzzard appeared to have a reasonable body condition and had no injury other than the bloody wing. This was cleaned up and checked for signs of infection. This close inspection revealed that the buzzard had actually been shot, so an initial fear was that the wing bone may be shattered and not viable.

However, a consultation with the vet revealed just a series of small fractures, all in a part of the wing which could, indeed be bound. After 2 weeks in bandages in the quiet seclusion of the sanctuary’s rehabilitation aviaries, the dressing was removed and the wing found to be fully mended. Another week in the secure environment offered the buzzard an opportunity to rebuild strength and muscle in preparation for its return to the wild.

Remarkably, last week this VERY lucky buzzard was returned by it’s rescuer to the location from whence it came, having defied the very poor odds of a shot wing returning to viability.

It is hoped that injured Buzzards will not be
seen too regularly in our hospital facilities

Having suffered a sharp decline in numbers during the early 20th. century due to pesticide poisoning and in the 1950s due to the spread of myxomatosis in rabbit populations, buzzard numbers have risen steadily over the last 20 years. They are now a becoming a common sight throughout the U.K. and we hope that this does not result in the buzzard being perceived as a threat to pheasant stocks and a renewed desire to reduce numbers by individuals.

The species is fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to kill, injure or take a buzzard or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. However, in July 2016, Natural England issued a licence available to landowners to shoot up to 10 buzzards “to prevent serious damage to pheasants”. It is hoped that such legislation will not result in an increase in injured wild buzzard numbers requiring the attention of our hospital facilities.

Our current  hospital treatment room and recovery spaces are somewhat cramped when dealing with such large birds and the necessity for expansion in this regard is now the main impetus behind our largest fundraising drive to date. We are hoping, with the help of our supportive visitors, grant aids and generous benefactors, to raise money over the next two years in order to build and equip a brand new Raptor Hospital, able to accommodate the whole spectrum of injured wild birds of prey requiring treatment and rehabilitation.