Rescue centre says ‘chunky’ owl was too fat to fly
- Credit: SUFFOLK OWL SANCTUARY
An owl was discovered to be “extremely obese” when it was found unable to fly in a ditch in Saxmundham – weighing three times as much as a healthy female of its kind.
Suffolk Owl Sanctuary said it is "extremely unusual" for birds to get into this condition naturally and were surprised to find it was the owl's weight which was preventing her from flying.
The wild owl - which has not been named and has since been released after being put on a strict diet - was discovered in a ditch by a landowner in a "soggy" state.
The sanctuary, based in Stonham Aspal, said that normally an owl is injured if it's found unable to fly, or on occasion it has become too wet which leaves them grounded.
Upon weighing the owl, the sanctuary found she was a "rather chunky 245g", which is roughly a third heaver than a large healthy female little owl.
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The sanctuary said: "She was unable to fly effectively due to the fatty deposits around her body.
"We needed to investigate some obvious scenarios - the first being that she was possibly an escaped aviary bird."
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But there was no indication of rings or chip identification, so the sanctuary chose to observe the bird over a period of weeks for signs of a life in captivity.
"Familiarity with common foods used in aviaries such as bright yellow chicks (which won't often be found naturally in the English countryside) are a telltale sign," said the sanctuary.
"But luckily for her, 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!"
The owl has since been released into the wild and her size will no longer be weighing her down.