Despite the fact that our raptor hospital was undergoing a complete reconstruction and refurbishment in 2011, the job of looking after and rehabilitating wild birds of prey continued none-the-less.
Of the birds that were brought in to us last year we were able to rehabilitate around 47%, which is a very good percentage. Of those that couldn’t be rehabilitated most were humanely put to sleep by our supporting vets at the Stowe Veterinary Group to prevent any unnecessary suffering.
Overall, fewer birds were actually brought in to us here at the Sanctuary than in 2010 and, for a number of reasons, that would seem to be a good sign. First of all, the increase in grass margins probably means that, essentially, fewer birds are hunting on the roadside and so are avoiding being hit by passing vehicles. Having said that, the biggest cause of injury to our birds of prey in this country is still RTA’s, which this year accounted for the damage to approximately 71% of the birds brought in to the Sanctuary.
Also, it would also seem that the message to leave foundling chicks where they are, rather than picking them up and moving them or bringing them in to us, has reached a wider audience. We had very few brought in to us last year, which is a pleasingly small result , though of course there are bound to be some genuine reasons why chicks might need care and attention.
Species wise, the hospital saw a greater intake of Tawny Owls than any other and, of those, the majority were the victims of RTA’s. Of the balance, some had got themselves into awkward predicaments - one of the Tawnies was actually found in a kitchen and another was wedged in a tree, but thankfully they aren’t situations that occur very often. The hospital also had a fairly even intake of other species, including Little Owls, Barn Owls, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks and, more rarely, one Marsh Harrier and a Sparrowhawk that was found in a chicken coup!
There are, unfortunately, all sorts of hazards out there for our wild birds of prey and Sparrowhawks in particular tend to be quite fond of bashing into windows. Usually this just results in a rather stunned bird, but it’s worthwhile making sure that big windows have stickers or curtains to alert birds that they can’t fly through them! What with predators, wires to get tangled in and the possibility of starvation if you are a young or in any way incapacitated raptor, it’s not any easy life out there, but we like to think at the Sanctuary that we help to make life that bit easier for our native birds of prey and it’s good to be able to report on another successful year of rehabilitation and release for 2011. Thank you for your support in enabling us to do so.