Helping Hands

Throughout the year, we receive calls and emails asking for help or information on a variety of natural history subjects, ranging from what to do with an injured owl to whether we can help with underweight hedgehogs.  

Hedgehogs of course aren’t really our field, but we ‘know a man who can’ and very good at it he is too – but that’s another story. We even had a call from a gentleman the other day who had bought a parrot and, at 70 years old, was finding it rather a strain every time the bird let out a random, raucous squawk.  It just so happens that our Chief Fundraiser Maz has connections in that line, so she was able to offer assistance.  Whatever the problem, we will try to help wherever we can.

Of course, our general manager Andy is a bit of a dab hand when it comes to bird of prey species, so he is usually the first port of call when we receive enquiries asking us to identify the subject of the photos we receive by email.  This week the task in hand was a bird photographed on the South Kent coast and it didn't take Andy long to pronounce that the bird in question was an immature Peregrine Falcon; obviously its youth had caused the uncertainty in identification.

This immature Peregrine Falcon was spotted on the Kent coast this week

We also received an email from slightly further afield - Rangoon in Burma - where Matthew had found a Spotted Owlet in his garden.  When he found it, it was on the ground being mobbed by crows and the overwhelmed bird seemed unphased when Matthew approached it. Concerned, Matthew picked the owl up and put it in a large box in his shed. Apparently there had been a big storm the previous night, which may have had something to do with the owl’s rather dazed condition.  Matthew was pretty certain the owl was uninjured and wanted some advice as to what he should do next - the only place within reach for him was a zoo, which he thought might be inappropriate.

A Spotted Owl like this one was found dazed & confused in a Burmese garden...
Photo: G.M. Garg

Andy's advice to Matthew was first to look for any signs of obvious injury and, if there are none, to keep the bird quiet in its box for a couple of days.  It may well just need a period of recuperation if it was battered about a bit in the storm.  Feed it some raw meat and see how it seems in a couple of days.  If the bird appears to be OK, the best thing would then be to release it as close to where you found it as possible.
However, if there are concerns that the owl is injured and have no local vet to take it to, it would be advisable to take it to the zoo. as they will certainly have a vet who can assess its injuries and take the appropriate action.  Although the situation may be different depending on your global location, in England vets have a duty of care to look after wild animals without charge.  

Getting back to Burma, Matthew emailed us shortly after with some good news: "Many thanks for this information, Ashley. I’m happy to say the bird has upped and flown. It was perched on a window ledge in the shed when I arrived back home today; I opened the door and it flew strongly up into nearby trees. Simply dazed after the storm I think, as you mention, so good news all round!"

We all love a happy ending, so it was nice to know the outcome of this story!