Although the Sanctuary's raptor hospital generally ticks along quietly behind the scenes, it's an aspect of our operations which has a hugely important role to play and, as always, was kept busy throughout last year.
However we're particularly pleased about the recovery of the birds brought into us last year, of which we were able to release a higher than normal rate successfully back to the wild - all told, during 2010 our falconers attended to 77 sick or injured wild birds of prey brought into to the Sanctuary, of which 48% were re-released.
The biggest cause of wild raptor injury by far - certainly in this area - stems from Road Traffic Accidents and over half of those brought to the Sanctuary year were victims of these RTA’s.
Many of the other birds brought to the Centre have been found in gardens or fields, either suffering from starvation or quite often - especially in the case of Sparrowhawks - having been stunned by flying into a window. Among the other hazards out there awaiting the unsuspecting raptor are getting caught in netting or barbed wire, all sorts of other perilous obstacles such as trains, chimneys & electric pylons - and on one memorable occasion, Sellotape!
The majority of birds brought into the hospital last year were Tawny Owls and Little Owls, but the number of Barn Owls and Kestrels also exceeded double figures, in addition to nine Sparrowhawks and one Buzzard.
From the total number of raptors brought to the Sanctuary in 2010, the falconers were able to treat, rehabilitate and release nearly half of them, a fantastic result in this context. This is also an opportune moment for us to extend our thanks to the Stowe Veterinary Group, who have been brilliant once again with all the help and assistance they have given us throughout the last year in this and other regards.
Although not listed as injured in our Register, around May time we tend to have a higher proportion of nestlings or youngsters brought in, particularly if they have fallen out of the nest and are looking abandoned!