A ring on its right leg had become caught on the barbwire fence from which the Owl was unable
to free itself from. I'm unsure as to how long it had been trapped, but it had severely damaged
its leg whilst trying to escape.
We managed to carefully release the Owl and take it to the Tiddywinkles wildlife rescue centre at Haddenham. I called today for an update on the injured Owl and was told that it had suffered a very bad fracture and although vets had tried to save the injured, leg including the use of a pin, the procedure unfortunately failed and the leg had to be amputated.
However, following the surgery the Owl was still capable of feeding and the staff at the centre were optimistic as to the Owls future. It will of course never be able to be released back into the wild.
Whoever ringed this unfortunate Barn Owl would, I'm sure, have been as saddened as the rest
of us, upon this heartbreaking discovery and I suspect that injuries to birds resulting from rings getting caught are rare. However, they do very obviously happen and by their very nature must go undiscovered and so under recorded.
Aside from this emotive and saddening episode it has once again made me question the relevance
of widespread and indiscriminate bird trapping and ringing.
It is unquestionable that the trapping and ringing of birds has sought to further our understanding of avian migration patterns and trends, but surely it must be time to reevaluate actually how much more information are we still likely to gleam from the trapping and ringing of up to 900,000 birds each year in Britain & Ireland? We've been doing it for up to 100 years already.
Is it still worth the distress caused to birds through the trapping of them?
The BTO Bird Atlas project is an important tool in assessing changing bird populations and trends,
as is the monthly WeBs counts- neither of which rely on trapping birds to ascertain statistics.
The Big Garden Birdwatch days plot the rise and fall of some of our commoner birds yet in Oxfordshire alone 5300 Blue Tits were caught and ringed in 2009. Why?
I suspect totals are similar in other counties.
Also it is evident that unfortunately there are those throughout the U.K (and I have met them) who trap and ring birds not as a means to further our scientific knowledge or understanding, but simply as a way to increase personal list totals of species they have ringed within a competitive forum.
So, can it honestly be said that all ringing is absolutely and solely for scientific research?
It was, it should be, but is it?
I for one am not so sure...