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Little Owl Returns to Nature

One night, a few weeks ago, I was driving my friends Tiago and Tim home from Fornos. There was a small dark stretch where, last year, at night time also, I’d seen a little hedge hog on the road and so had stopped and picked him up and carried him across the road by hand to a place of safety. A memory that often came back to me when driving along this road. This time, in almost the identical spot I saw a white furry ball that I instantly thought was the same little creature I’d helped last time (or maybe his family?). This time however it turned out to be something different. Tiago got out of the car and went to pick the little fellow up and brought him into the car. It turned out to be a little owl, which we found out later was actually called Little Owl (Athene Noctua).
Tiago was assigned as ambulance and carer and so in the next few days the little owl found its way into the hands of the right people at CERVAS in Gouveia.
Through Tiago I was able to keep in touch with it’s progress and was surprised an excited when I received a message from him saying that they were looking for a farm around Vila Ruiva where they could release her back to nature. It was a beautiful experience to see our little friend again, and especially to be gifted with the honor of setting him free again into the wild.
Ricardo from CERVAS came and did a little presentation on the various kinds of owls that exist in Portugal prior to setting it free. We were asked to give it a name and so the name Lua was chosen. The timing just so happened to coincide with a little jam we were about to have so it turned out to be a nice little ceremony during his flight to freedom. A very symbolic occasion for many of us who were present at this event.
Tim, singing songs of freedom for Lua.
Tiago looking on at our parting moments with Lua.
Bye bye guys! Thanks for the ceremony.
What to do if you find an injured wild animal?
  1. Avoid disruption as much as possible. Minimise loud/strange noises, handle the animal as little as possible and avoid contact with other people. Make the little fella feel comfortable and tranquil.
  2. Use a towel or a cloth to cover its head (with no visual stimulation it will stay calmer) and put the creature into an adequately sized cardboard box with perforations to provide adequate air for breathing/ventilation. Take care of claws and beaks that may scratch!
  3. Get in touch immediately with:

    SEPNA-GNR: 217503080 SOS
    Ambiente: 808200520
    CERVAS: 927713585

Author: Millo Magnocavallo

Millo bought his quinta via Pure Portugal and is the founder of the Earth Neighbours Project.

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One thought on “Little Owl Returns to Nature

  1. Great work, guys. Thanks for the contact CERVAS. I will keep it safe. Could I add one point to your bullet list of things to do if you find an injured animal? A few years ago, a long-eared bat found its wayinto our office in the UK and flapped around madly trying to find a way out, then roosted high above our heads. Since almost all bat species are protected, I went online to read what the Bat Rescue experts had to say, and the first thing was,”Before you attempt to catch it, offer it a teaspoon full of water. Stress will have made it thirsty, and dehydration can kill a distressed animal.” I tried it, and oh, joy! The little critter hanging upside down from the ceiling molding actually stuck out a pink tongue and began to lap up the water. It was a magic moment. With a little luck, we then managed to scoop the tired animal into a waste basket which we carried outside. Off it flew. Hurrah. Oh – and by the way, unless I missed this, you didn’t say it was injured or what the injury was/how treated. Sometimes, if the beastie is really badly injured, the kindest thing is to help them out of this world and their pain.

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