Earlier this month we received a casualty into our Raptor Hospital the likes of which it had never seen before!
A call was made to us early in the day to say that an unidentified bird of prey had been found by a lady walking on a nearby airfield. The bird did not have obvious injuries (such as a wing hanging down or difficulty walking) but its tolerance of humans in close proximity suggested that it was in need of assistance, so the rescuer was able to gather the bird up and visit her local vet.
The vet ascertained that there were no physical injuries but that the bird was suffering from starvation and that, in the right hands, the bird would stand a very good chance of complete recovery. After crop tubing the casualty to kick start the digestive system, the vet transferred the mystery bird to our specialist facilities for intensive care.
On admitting the patient to our hospital, General Manager Andy was stunned to find that the bird was a Rough Legged Buzzard - the first of its kind to come into our care. A migratory bird, only a handful come to the U.K. from Scandinavia every autumn, mainly to locations on the east coast.
Occasional large influxes of the species do appear, usually as a result of a particularly good breeding season which then causes pressure on food sources in the homeland. The birds will then migrate to coastal marshes and farmland along the coasts of Yorkshire, Northumberland and Norfolk. The Rough Legged Buzzard is lighter in colour than the familiar Common Buzzard with longer wings and a paler head. It is prone to hover over its prey than the latter and also has heavily feathered legs, hence its name.
Now settled into the Raptor Hospital, the patient is being fed little and often in order to build up its weight. If progress is satisfactory, the bird will then be moved out to a quiet, secluded rehabilitation aviary for a week to ten days. Strength and confidence allowing, the buzzard will then be released as close as possible to where it was found - not only will this site provide the best habitat for its continued health, but it may well have a lonely mate within the vicinity.