A team from Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in eastern England discovered that an owl it had been called to rescue was unable to fly because it was obese. The chubby owl was named “Plump.”
According to Rufus Samkim, the head falconer, the team took in the owl on January 3, 2020, thinking it had been injured or its flying was impeded by the fact it was wet. “We thoroughly examined it and found there was nothing wrong, other than it being extraordinarily overweight. It was very, very plump and very wet,” Samkim said.
However, after drying off and getting a clean bill of health, the owl still struggled to fly up to the perches in the aviary. The team thought the owl had been kept as a pet, but that was not the case as it refused foods commonly given to pet birds in favor of feed eaten by wild owls.
Upon weighing the overindulged bird, the rescuers found out that it is roughly a third heavier than a large healthy female little owl. “She was unable to fly effectively due to the fatty deposits around her body,” Suffolk-based animal rescuers wrote.
The team further commented that it’s very unusual for wild birds to get into this condition naturally. When staff examined the owl identified as Athene noctua, they found it had a lot of fatty deposits around its thighs and abdomen.
The falconers then looked deeper into where the owl was and discovered the place was crawling with wild mice. “It’s been a really good year for prey species, so I think she’s just massively overindulged, got plump, and then got caught in a wet spell and was too fat to fly,” Samkin said.
Samkinsaid, the owl, lost between 20g and 30g over a couple of weeks while staff monitored its food intake. The sanctuary kept the owl on a strict diet for two weeks to bring it back within a healthy weight range from 245g and was later released back into the wild where it was found.
“We may see her again – we hope not,” said Mr. Samkin. “Hopefully, she’s learned to keep her weight in trim so she can escape any predators or being picked up.”
Well, it appears it is not only humans who binge on an unhealthy lifestyle over the holidays, but birds do too!