‘He’s very feisty’: The owl who fluttered back to life

Bird brought to Kildare Animal Foundation showed ‘no signs of life’ after being hit by van

Barbara Devlin, a volunteer at the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit, came across the owl in mid-June, after he had been hit by a van.

Barbara Devlin, a volunteer at the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit, came across the owl in mid-June, after he had been hit by a van.

 

An owl is having a hoot of a time at an aviary in Wicklow despite being on death’s door just months ago.

Barbara Devlin, a volunteer at the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit, came across the owl in mid-June, after he had been hit by a van.

She was called to Moate Pet Clinic, in Westmeath, where a farmer had left the owl for treatment, to transfer the bird for specialist care at the Wildlife Unit.

“In the car, I was putting a blanket under it when I noticed there were no signs of life,” Barbara says.

“I brought it back inside where it was taken into treatment and confirmed as having died.”

Barbara decided to bring the owl back to the shelter, as deceased wildlife can be used for training courses.

“Back at the shelter, Dan Donohan, the wildlife manager examined it, and showed me how its air sacs were burst.”

“It did, to all intents and purposes, look dead. As we chatted, it moved a leg to our complete amazement!”

“I was really shocked. I’ve transported a lot of animals and I’ve never seen that before.”

The owl has now been transferred to a pre-release aviary in Wicklow and he will be released next week.
The owl has now been transferred to a pre-release aviary in Wicklow and he will be released next week.

From that point, the owl began his journey to rehabilitation. “Dan took him home every night and tube fed him, kept him comfortable and worked tirelessly to try and save him,” Barbara says.

Within three weeks, the owl was able to eat on his own. Within a month, he was nearing full strength and independence.

The owl has now been transferred to a pre-release aviary in Wicklow and he will be released next week, close to where he was first found.

Despite the intensive care provided by Dan and his team, Barbara says “There’s no risk of domestication. He’s very feisty!”

Barbara is one of a hundred animal lovers volunteering for the Unit across the country and has been transporting animals to the shelter for five years.

The foundation was established in 1994 to provide specialist care for wild, abused or abandoned animals.

As many veterinary clinics do not have the facilities or skills to treat wildlife, the foundation also offers training to vets.

Barbara, Dan and Dr Jennifer O’Donovan, the vet who first treated the owl, will gather at the aviary for its release next week.