Rare owl flies again after a double wing transplant
A RARE owl badly injured in a road accident has been given the gift of flight after a double wing transplant.
The injured little owl had lost several of its vital flight feathers, and others were damaged beyond repair. It would have perished in the wild.
A member of the public found the bird flapping around on the ground and took it to the Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) in Leatherhead, Surrey, where vet Maru Urbina rebuilt both the owl’s wings by grafting donor flight feathers from a dead owl into the empty feather shafts.
The detailed procedure is known as imping and is rarely carried out on wild birds. Feathers used from the donor wing were matched to the correct location on the live wing, each being carefully cut and angled before being attached with surgical glue. Wire was also used to create artificial spines to make grafting easier.
Little owls are rare in the UK, with just a few thousand breeding pairs remaining after a dramatic population decline over the past 50 years due to habitat loss and farming practices.
WAF is one of the few conservation charities in the UK that has a fully equipped and staffed 24-hour wildlife emergency centre. After the operation, the bird spent a day recovering before being successfully released.
Simon Cowell, the WAF’s chief executive, said: “The procedure we carried out was very delicate and without it, the owl would not have survived. Imping is usually carried out on captive birds of prey. We took the idea and developed it to help a wild bird. It was a complete success.
Designer dog kennels fit for canine kings and queens will go under the hammer at the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel on April 26. Designed by architects and artists, the unique creations – dubbed Bowwow Haus – will raise funds for Blue Cross, the pet...