‘Extremely Obese’ Owl Rescued After Becoming Too Fat To Fly

This little owl had a big appetite.

When the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in England first took in this “soggy” bird, it thought she’d been injured or perhaps was struggling to fly because she was wet. Turns out she was just a tad too chunky to be airborne.

In social media posts, the rescue and conservation group explained that on weighing the bird, known as a “little owl,” they discovered she was “extremely obese” ― roughly a third heavier than they would expect a large healthy female little owl to be.

“This is extremely unusual for wild birds to get into this condition naturally,” the group wrote in a post.

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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

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The little owl likely put on weight over the winter when she "overindulged" in an area filled with plentiful prey.
The little owl likely put on weight over the winter when she “overindulged” in an area filled with plentiful prey.

The group’s head falconer, Rufus Samkin, told the BBC that the area where the owl was found had been crawling with voles and mice due to a mild winter.

“We think she’s just done incredibly well for herself and overindulged,” he said.

Samkin said that the owl had dropped 20 to 30 grams during her two-week stay, and he hoped she’d learned her lesson.

“Hopefully, she’s learnt to keep her weight in trim so she can escape any predators or being picked up,” he said.

Following a couple of weeks of observation on a strict diet, the little owl was released back into the wild Monday at a more natural weight.