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Tomsk officials ask residents to force-feed owls

 02/8/2014, 02:32
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Tomsk officials ask residents to force-feed owls
Great Grey Owls, photo by valery surnaev

Officials from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection in the Tomsk Region have suggested that citizens force-feed Great Grey Owls — large birds that fly to the city in periods of extreme cold to search for food, according to an appeal from the department that Sib.fm’s correspondent examined on 3 February.

An appeal, in which citizens are asked to take care of birds of prey, in particular owls that come to the city in winter in search of food, has been posted on the website of the Tomsk Region Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

This was provoked by several calls from residents to the city’s duty officer on 30 January about «a large bird, a Great Grey Owl, not scared of anyone, sitting in a tree and being attacked by grey crows,» reports the department’s website.

The small rodents that the owls feed on are nestled in deep snow and are not easy to get to, but pieces of meat may not be fed to the owls, as they only hunt live prey and only eat warm meat. For this reason, officials have given some tips on how to help the birds survive.

«You should wrap the bird in clothes, so that it doesn’t hurt you with its claws. Then take it into a warm darkened room and try to force-feed it small pieces of warm, moist meat. It might start to eat of its own accord after a while,» recommends Valery Surnaev, deputy head of the specially protected territories department.

Then the bird should be handed over to specialists at the zoo or ornithologists from Tomsk State University, added the official.

He also advises Tomsk residents to install as many feeders for small birds as possible, since that «increases the likelihood that rodents will be interested in these parts of the city in order to pick up leftover food that has fallen from the feeders, whereas owls may be attracted by the restless bird population.»

A Great Grey Owl was found in Tomsk in late January — it was weak because of hunger, tried to fly away from some dogs, and then crashed into a car. The owl was sent to the Zoological Museum at Tomsk State University. Museum staff later reported that the bird was on the mend and will be released into the wild when the weather warms up.

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