Gallery: Escaped birds returned to roost

A PHARAOH eagle owl is enjoying his home comforts again after a week-long taste of freedom.

John Howard

A PHARAOH eagle owl is enjoying his home comforts again after a week-long taste of freedom.

Eleven-year-old Isis is back with the ten birds who escaped after vandals broke into about 30 cages at The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns.

Isis was free the longest before being tracked down to a bird table at a couple's bungalow in Pettaugh.

And the experience seems to have changed the bird, which used to try and attack handlers as they cleaned his cage but is now much more mellow.

Maz Robinson, assistant manager at the centre which is visited by thousands of people, said: “Isis is a lovely little chap but he used to be quite feisty.

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“He knows how to handle himself and would attack some of us as we cleaned his cage. But he is a lot calmer and looks very proud and happy to be sat back at his home.

“If Isis had been out any longer he would never have lasted, he was really thin and weak, which is why we were able to catch him. He is putting on weight and enjoying his home comforts again.”

Staff managed to catch five of the birds quite quickly, but five more were on the loose including a Burrowing owl, Great Horned owl, African Spotted Eagle owl, Tawny owl and Isis the Pharaoh Eagle owl.

Staff camped on the site grounds to see if they could find the birds when they came out at dusk or dawn, as well as responding to calls flooding in from residents of potential sightings. Isis was the last to be caught.

Workers at the centre have been contacted by animal rights activist groups who claim not to have been involved in the recent incident, leading staff to believe it was simply mindless youngsters causing mischief.

The centre, a charity, has now had to spend £2,000 on new locks and is investigating upgrading security further. The birds are unable to survive in the wild because it is an environment they have never known and would have died if out for too long.

Police are appealing for anyone who may be able to assist them with their investigation to contact officers on 01284 774100.