An autumn born barn owl gets a helping hand

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Thank goodness David is out of hospital and is resuming his visits to the swan shed. I think he was worried what had happened to the place whilst he was away.

He must have been relieved to find that we had not emptied the chocolate biscuit tin and that everything had carried on more or less as usual. It was certainly good to see him back, and Kay too of course.

While David was in hospital, Dick and myself went to Newcastle to see Lee Evans but just before we took our seats Dick’s phone rang. Someone had found a baby barn owl which had been blown out of its tree and his parents had not been near for a couple of days. Dick explained where we were and he offered to bring the bird to our house where my brother Terry would take it in.

We phoned Terry to let him know the bird was coming and asked him to let us know how big it was. Terry described the bird as a white fluffy grapefruit size tucked right into the corner of the box. He took a couple of chicks out of the freezer so they would be thawed when we got home. It was late when we got home and we took a peep inside the box. The ‘grapefruit’ was now standing on sturdy legs and a head and neck had appeared at the top. As soon as he saw us he shrank down to his previous size. We left him a chick for his supper and closed up the box.

The chick was gone in the morning and had the effect of making him feel more like himself. He hissed loudly when we looked in at him and waved his head from side to side in a very threatening manner. As he was feeding himself okay we took him down to the shed and installed him in a cage. As the photo shows he tried to hide in the corner.

We were surprised to see such a young bird at this time of year but later we were watching Autumn Naturewatch on TV and heard that the barn owl is one of the birds that will nest any time of year if there is sufficient food available. He is doing very well and hisses at anyone who passes his cage. Shortly he will be off to one of the aviaries as he is very quickly losing all the fluffy down he had.

During the last couple of weeks all our swans have been released. The pens were only empty for a couple of days as we have a new swan in via RSPCA with suspected lead poisoning. It was shaking its head and looking quite sorry for itself. It was one of the first birds David checked on his escape from hospital. He x-rayed the bird and found to his surprise that it had broken ribs. We have no idea how this could have occurred but the bird is now looking more comfortable, so it is probably just a question of time to heal up. At least it is not shaking its head now. Perhaps this was due to shock after it collided with something.

Our biggest hedgehogs have been released so they can find a safe place to hibernate before the cold weather starts. More have arrived since then. We have four in at the moment, two very small ones are not in good condition but we are giving them a chance.

The turtle dove is making progress and later this week it may be possible to remove the splint from its leg. It is able to use it a little so we are hoping for the best.


Should you find an animal in need of our services, or if you need advice please phone HQ on (01289) 302882. We are happy to help. You can also e-mail via our website We are also on Facebook. If you would like to donate to the Trust or become a member please contact Derek Roughton. Yew Tree Cottage, Branton, Alnwick, NE66 4LW. Telephone (01665) 578365.