A concerned passerby who found this female "little owl" drenched in a ditch immediately contacted the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in eastern England to rescue it.
A team of falconers recently discovered that overindulgence in food is not something limited to humankind after rescuing an owl that was too bulky to fly. A concerned passerby who found this female "little owl" drenched in a ditch immediately contacted the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in eastern England to rescue it, reports CNN. Head falconer Rufus Samkin said that the owl, scientifically known as athene noctua, was brought in by the team on January 3.
Initially, the rescuers believed that the owl had sustained some injury, and thus could not fly. They also assumed that her drenched feathers might have impeded ability to take flight. However, both these suspicions were ruled out when the bird struggled to fly up to the perches present in the aviary despite having its feathers dried and no ailments. "It's quite relatable -- a plump owl that's overdone it," explained Samkin. "We thoroughly examined it and found there was nothing wrong, other than it being extraordinarily overweight. It was very, very plump and very wet."
So, the team believed that the owl might have been living in a domestic environment, but found "no evidence". She also refused to consume food normally given to pet birds preferring to eat wild food. "Owls do have an issue with waterproofing -- so if they do get wet they can't fly as well. But this one couldn't really fly at all," he added. "It was about one third bigger than the average female we'd get -- so significantly larger." Furthermore, he revealed that the bird had a lot of "fatty deposits" present around its abdomen and thighs. On investigating the area where the owl was found, they discovered an abundance of wild mice. Coupled with this, and rainy weather, the well-fed bird was unable to fly, they concluded.
"When we dug a little deeper and looked into where she was found we discovered the place was crawling with wild mice," shared Samkin. "It's been a really good year for prey species, so I think she's basically just massively overindulged, got really plump, and then got caught in a wet spell and was too fat to fly." Following this discovery, the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary kept the bird on a diet for two weeks to get it to a healthy weight range. On Monday, the team took her back to the place she was found and released her back into the wild. "She definitely needed to go on a diet," noted Samkin. "Hopefully she's learned a thing or two."