As you probably know, all animals moult regularly in order to renew skin or fur and birds moult at least once a year in order to renew their damaged feathers: some also use the occasion to change their breeding colours and other bird populations in colder climes lighten the colour of their plumage for winter in order to increase snow camouflage.
Very often some of the birds that come into our charge in a distressed or damaged state are in a moulting state, and so where applicable we keep these for a while even after they have recuperated from their injuries until such time as they have completed their moult and have a refreshed set of feather with which to greet the world.
During the past couple of weeks we have been able to prepare some long-term in-mates for release on such a basis, including a barn owl brought into us at the beginning of the year who had lost a fair few feathers and is now back to peak condition, as well as a pair of adult tawnies who are in a hack box getting accustomed to the surroundings of their release location
However, the oily kestrel which came in a few months ago will probably be with us for several months to come as she has yet to start her moult. We need her to do this before release because she needs a whole new set of feathers - she was so oiled up when she came into us that even using the best methods to remove the excess oil we could not remove enough to ensure the original feathers would sustain successful flight.
On a lighter note, Bradley Heffer sent us this selection of owlish jokes which we are sure you will enjoy - thanks, Bradley!
1. Where do owls do their shopping? Owldy
2. What do owls say when they get hurt? Owlch.
3. What car does an owl drive? An Owlfa Romeo.
4. What do owls listen to? Owlbums.
5. What do owls drink? Owlcahol!