When Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in England was informed by some passerby that an owl was stuck in a ditch, they also thought on similar grounds.
But it turned out that the “little owl” could not fly as it was “extremely obese”.
The bird weighed 245g (about a third heavier than a large healthy female little owl) and she was unable to fly due to the “fatty deposits”.
The owl sanctuary took to their Instagram handle to write about the curious case of the owl.
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This soggy little owl was found in a ditch. Usually in these instances we assume injury that is preventing the owl from flying - occasionally becoming wet causes them to become grounded too - so you can imagine our surprise that when we examined her, we found her to simply be extremely obese! Upon weighing her, she was a rather chunky 245g (which is roughly a third heaver than a large healthy female little owl) and she was unable to fly effectively due to the fatty deposits. This is unusual for wild birds to get into this condition, so we needed to investigate some obvious scenarios - the first being that she was possibly an escaped aviary bird. Sadly there was no indication of rings or chip identification. We decided to observe the bird over a period of weeks for signs of a life in captivity. Familiarity with foods used in aviaries such as bright yellow chicks (which won’t often be found naturally in the English countryside) are a telltale sign. Luckily, there were no giveaway signs as she was readily taking more wild food types such as dark mice, so we are confident this may just be an unusual case of natural obesity! We also found that the area where she was rescued was crawling with field mice and voles due to the warm and wet winter we experienced in December. She has since spent a few weeks with us under observation and been placed on a strict diet. We can now happily say she has trimmed down to a more natural weight for release. . . . . . #suffolkowlsanctuary #owlsanctuary #animalsanctuary #suffolkwildlife #owl #buzzard #eagle #hawk #kestrel #meerkat #redsquirrel #conservation #wildlifeconservation #wildliferescue #animalrescue #birdsofprey #animalrehabilitation #suffolk #falconry
The post added that for a wild bird to get so obese was unheard of. So, the members of the sanctuary decided to keep the bird under observation for some weeks.
The owl was given captivity food items to test whether it had escaped from any captivity. But it showed interest in consuming wild preys such as mice.
This presented a novel case of “natural obesity” in front of the researchers. They also found that the area where the bird was rescued from was crawling with field mice and voles.
The post added that the owl has been kept on a “strict diet”, which has resulted in her slimming down to a more “natural weight for release”.