Little Treasures...

Somewhat unfortunately, this time of year is always a busy one where the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary hospital is concerned.  It's a tough old world out there, even for seasoned birds of prey, but life is fraught with danger if you're a nipper just starting out.  In the spring and early summer, as well as the usual quota of injured raptors, the hospital also receives a number of orphaned littl'uns, for a variety of reasons. 


Raring to go - two of the four Little Owls brought into us
recently just before we took them off to the hack box
- the first step in the release process


 
Dean checks on the little’uns safely installed in their
hack box in a local barn - he will visit & feed them daily and then open up
the front of the box as they learn to fend for themselves

You may remember in our blog of 2/6/10 that we saw the arrival of a brood of Little Owls, which unfortunately were still in a tree when it was cut down.  The Little Owls looked so tiny and vulnerable when they first came to us, it seemed incredible to think that they would one day be able to fend for themselves in the wild.  But it's amazing how fast they grow and after just a few short weeks they were robust enough and healthy enough to begin their journey back to their natural habitat.  The first step was to put the youngsters into a 'hack box' and Conservation Officer Dean took along volunteer Kate to record the event.  The hack box has been located on a farm local to the Sanctuary, so that Dean can keep an eye on the youngsters and feed them until they are ready to hunt for themselves and then finally be released.
 
Loving to Learn
This is also a busy season for us education-wise, as it's the time of year that many schools are looking to provided extra-special educational experiences for their pupils.  Educating youngsters about the care and conservation of birds of prey is one of the most important facilities we can offer here at the Sanctuary, as todays youngsters will be the prime movers in caring for our environment in years to come.


Weather permitting, every school visit to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary includes one of our spectacular flying displays, where the children have the opportunity to see first hand the incredible beauty and majesty of some of stunning raptors in flight.  A guided tour of the centre also gives them the chance to learn all sorts of fascinating facts about birds of prey from all over the world and to see them close up.

 


Schools visiting S.O.S. experience a wide variety of education activities
connected with the raptor world, from Arts & Crafts to Pellet Dissection!

Our education department offers a variety of activities, all aimed at being fun as well as informative, one of the most popular of which is 'pellet dissection'.  Kids are always surprised to learn that owls don't have teeth and as a consequence have to swallow their prey whole.  They are fascinated and horrified in equal measure to discover that the bits an owl can't digest, such as bones, feathers and fur are 'coughed up' a few hours after they've eaten, in the form of a pellet. 

Once we get to the part where the pellets can be soaked and then teased apart to see what's inside, kids and teachers alike are hooked.  It's incredibly exciting to find a perfectly formed leg bone, or even better the miniature skull of a bird or small mammal.  There is a great deal that can be learnt from observing what our top predators are consuming; the information gleaned can give us an important overview of what's happening in our environment, so we hope we're doing our bit to enthuse youngsters to look after their world in the future.