Suffolk Owl Sanctuary pair fly down 'wedding aisle' after rescue

  • In Science
  • 2023-02-04 09:36:40Z
  • By BBC
Wotsit and Snowball
Wotsit and Snowball  

A pair of "bonded" tawny owls have been released back in the wild down a "woodland wedding aisle" after being cared for at a sanctuary.

Snowball and Wotsit were found injured at the roadside in different locations in Suffolk about four weeks ago.

During rehabilitation at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in Stonham Aspal, the pair bonded, snuggling up together.

Although staff cannot be sure of their sex, they believe Snowball is male and hope he will mate with female, Wotsit.

Jess Barrell, senior falconer and head of the sanctuary's hospital, released the pair in a wood at a popular wedding venue in the village of Henley, north of Ipswich, on Friday.

"These two came in to us as singles, however they spent time in an aviary to build their fitness and develop their hunting skills, and within that time they pair-bonded so they spent the whole time snuggled up next to each other, which was absolutely lovely," she said.


Falconer Nick Wallbridge said it was not easy to tell the sex of a tawny owl.

"You have to look at the size, and Wotsit is quite a bit bigger so we believe she's female, while Snowball is smaller - we're almost certain he is male, but it's hard to be 100% sure without DNA testing," he said.

Snowball and Wotsit, the tawny owls
Snowball and Wotsit, the tawny owls  

Ms Barrell has high hopes for the newly released pair, now they are both fit and healthy.

They were ready to "start their new lives together", she said.

The pair, once released, flew off underneath the wedding arch at the end of the woodland aisle.

"These two little owls, as a couple... going down the aisle together... couldn't be more perfect," she said.

Both have been ringed with identification numbers.

"Hopefully in the future we might see these guys nesting around locally. They can range up to 10km (six miles), and the other bird population could dictate whether they stay here - but we really hope they will - we'd love to see them again," said Ms Barrell.

"In the next year or two we might even see some youngsters from these two.

"But for now, they're going to start their new lives in the wilderness of Suffolk. This is the best part of what we do - getting these birds back where they belong."

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