These three baby barn owls are being cared for by wildlife rescuers from the Burnham-On-Sea area after being found in a lorry among a load of straw.
A man recently rushed through the doors of Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill with four pink, helpless baby birds who needed urgent care.
The man had loaded up his lorry with straw bales at a farm as normal, but then when he arrived at his delivery address he heard chirping and was surprised to see the four little birds moving around in the straw.
He brought them straight to Secret World, where animal carer Dan saw that these were very young barn owlets and quickly checked them in for care.
They were featherless and very cold, so Dan acted straight away to warm them up in an incubator, slowly and gently.
Despite all Dan’s efforts, sadly one of the babies was too weak and died very quickly.
The three survivors went into the care of experienced owl-rearer Trudi, a Secret World animal carer.
“I have cared for many wildlife orphans but never barn owls this young,” Trudi told Burnham-On-Sea.com. “They were pink with a little white fuzz when they arrived but they quickly began to grow downy white fluff.”
“At this age they would still be totally reliant on their parents and would not be leaving the nest, so I have been feeding them small pieces of meat several times a day and keeping them warm and quiet. One of them is much smaller but they are all doing really well and they grow and change each day.”
“They still need me to feed them, using tweezers, but once they can feed themselves I will have as little contact with them as possible.”
“Then when they are mature enough they will go back to Secret World and live in an outdoor aviary where they will learn to fly and develop natural behaviours until they are eventually released back into the wild, which will be done gradually with support.”
“It’s a long process but we have successfully reared and released barn owl orphans before so we know how to give them the best possible start.”
“It’s important for babies like these to avoid contact with too many people, but visitors to Secret World may have the chance to see the centre’s resident adult barn owls, Shadow and Zazoo. They were both unwanted pets, born in captivity, so they were taken in by Secret World – but as they had been kept as pets they sadly couldn’t be released.”
Secret World is open to the public every day this summer from 10am to 4pm. Visitors might see Shadow and Zazoo along with other resident birds of prey, foxes, deer, harvest mice and sleepy badgers.
Entry is free but all donations will help the team to rescue more injured and orphaned owls and other wildlife and return them to the wild wherever possible.
Pictured: Now four weeks old the three barn owlets are doing well under Trudi’s care (photos Megan Horton)