Owls are common wildlife casualties seen in veterinary practice, and the basic principles of avian medicine and surgery apply to their treatment. However, unlike birds kept in captivity, free-living owls must be fully fit with unimpaired sensory faculties, especially vision and hearing, in order to survive in the wild. Most owls presented to veterinary practitioners have been injured in traumatic collisions, usually involving road vehicles, and many will have sustained severe injuries as a result. This article covers the principles of dealing with wild owls, including their care and treatment, and the importance of cooperation with rehabilitators in making realistic decisions about their chances of regaining full fitness to avoid unnecessary procedures and suffering.
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Useful contacts ■ Raptor Rescue. www.raptorrescue.org.uk
■ Barn Owl Trust. www.barnowltrust.org.uk
■ Hawk and Owl Trust. www.hawkandowl.org
■ Raptor Foundation. www.raptorfoundation.org.uk
■ Independent Bird Register (for reporting lost and found captive owls). www.independentbirdregister.co.uk
■ Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) (to report injured wildlife). Tel: 0300 1234 999 or 0300 1234 555 (advice line)
■ British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) (for reporting details of ringed birds). www.bto.org. Tel: 01842 750050
■ CITES and Bird Registration Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service (WLRS). Tel: 0117 372 8774, e-mail:
■ Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (currently interested in carcases of barn owls to test for residues of certain toxins). www.ceh.ac.uk. Tel: 01524 595800
■ Barn owl release licence (Natural England). www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/wml-gl22_tcm6-24170.pdf
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