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  • Writer's picturePeg McDonald

Greater Sooty owl brings carers together

At the moment here at HGRC most of the birds in care have come from other bird of prey rehabilitators, following anything from days to months in care.

These great people have completed the important initial steps in caring for the bird, and have then moved them on here to allow further testing to be carried out and fitness levels to be increased.

Reminder - the facilities here have been built up with every carer, every carer organisation and most importantly every bird that enters our system in mind. They are available for us all to utilise.

More and more vets, zoos and carers are coming on board now, realising that it is all a team effort and that the better we can do in the rehabilitation process the better the chances of survival for the bird once it is released.

This beautiful Greater Sooty 0wl, Tyto tenebricosa, has come here after being beautifully cared for by Catherine Wroe , who is a member of on the central coast of NSW.

He was found on the roadside, was badly concussed, very emaciated and with an eye trauma.

He is a male, we believe possibly a young one dispersing and struggling to find food. My knowledge does not extend to Sooty dispersal or accurate age ID, any ideas anyone Matt Wright Jeff Hardy Beth Mott

He has hopefully converted a lot of his weight gain into muscle now as he zips about at night - in the next week or so he will have access to the new aviary complex that extends onto the free flight, giving him over 130m in length, the ability to fly 100 m and 50 m circuits and to work up from ground level to heights of 8m and down and around. Just like the Masked Owls that come into care, Sooty's love to be totally hidden away during the day behind foliage, as you can see in the image. Mice (thanks Brad Harper and ABR) rats and small rabbit kittens from Dolittle Farms provide his diet, and he also gets crickets, which I see him watching on the CCTV but have never seen evidence of them being consumed, and a large water dish that I have observed him drinking from also on the #vetafarm CCTV.

Asides from conditioning he came here to be checked out by an old mate who is a vet opthalmologist, full blood analysis including biochem and haematology analysis, full body x rays to be totally sure we have not missed anything before he is given the run of the system,faecal analysis, (passed - and passed!), and a whizzy hearing test I have developed, also passed. Another thing I picked up on my Churchill fellowship journey and converted to the situation here! Using the CCTV app on my phone, a 100m length of twine and a dead mouse attached, I set up the mouse in the bush about 50m or more away, wait till dark, then quickly move the mouse and watch on my phone to see what they hear, of not. He was onto where the sound came from in a split second!! He will also be tested for Haemoproteus spp., a blood parasite that we have found in the big forest owls previously. This can be found in "normal" numbers in these birds, and at these low levels can be managed by the bird without interference, however if numbers build up as a result of the stress the birds go through then we will need to act on that information.

These birds are classified as vulnerable in NSW so everything we can do to give him a better go second time around will be done. Pretty much the same as we would do for any bird here, but his status makes it all even more vital.

Credit to Catherine for this great image of him.

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