Here at the sanctuary we hear a lot of different questions form people but listed below are the most common.

Q: What do owls eat?

A: Depending on their size, owls eat anything from insects to rabbits and hares, but mostly mice, voles and shrews.

Q: Aren’t they thirsty?

A: Owls don’t normally drink water – they take blood from their prey instead. However they have to keep clean – this is problematic for owls as they cannot easily tell the depth of water, and owls often drown as their feathers are not oiled.

Q: Why are they panting?

A: Owls don’t perspire, so they use this method to cool when very hot or under stress, much like dogs do.

Q: Will they bite me?

A: Owls don’t have teeth, but their beaks are quite sharp and used to tear up food. However, the talons are the most dangerous and used to catch their prey.

Q: Do owls talk?

A: Owls have their own language and use it to communicate with each other or to ward off an attack from a predator.

Q: Can owls turn their head right round?

A: Owls have excellent vision, but their eyes are fixed in their sockets so they must turn their heads to alter their view. They have the ability to turn their head 3/4 of a circle, that’s 270 degrees.

Q: Do owls have ears?

A: Yes, they do have ears. They are slits, asymmetric, behind the facial mask. Their wonderful hearing and incredible sight make them a formidable predator. One ear is bigger than the other.

Q: Why have you got them tied down?

A: When owls are on display, they have leather anklets on their legs. These anklets are called Aylmeri and attached to these are jesses with slits in them so a line can be attached to secure them. This equipment is taken off when they go back to their enclosures.

Q: How long have you had owls?

A: Brian got his first owl in 1989 and has been helping injured owls and re-homing others since then.

Q: Why have you got owls in the daytime?

A: Contrary to popular belief, that owls only hunt at night, they do hunt in the daytime especially when they have young to feed. However, it’s better for them to hunt at night as other birds have gone to sleep. As we are not funded, the birds we display help support the sanctuary.

Q: Which owls do we have in Great Britain?

A: Here is a list of British Owls:

  • Little Owl (Athene Noctua)
  • Short-eared Owl (Asio Flammeus)
  • Long-eared Owl (Asio Otus)
  • Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco)
  • Barn Owl (Tyto Alba)
  • Snowy Owl (Nyctea Scandiaca)

The European Eagle Owl is not present, but has been reintroduced in the North of England, so may in time be out back on the list. There is a debate currently as to whether they are a native British owl.

Q: How long does an owl live?

A: This will depend on the breed of owl and whether is a wild or captive bird.

 Breed of Owl Wild Owl Lifespan
Captive Bred Owl Lifespan
 Barn Owl
 1 – 5 years  20 – 25 years (record is 32)
 Tawny Owl
 1 – 5 years  20 – 25 years (record is 27)
 Snowy Owl
 4 – 7 years  25 – 35 years
 Eagle Owl
 Up to 20 years  Up to 60 years

As you can see they are a huge commitment and not a ‘pet’.

Q: How big can and owl get?

A: This depends on the species but the European Eagle Owls, for example, the female can grow to have a 3 metre (10ft) wingspan!

Q: I’ve found an owl that looks hurt. What do I do?

A: You can call us for advice but the best thing you can do is follow this advice:

Most wild animals are capable of inflicting serious bites or scratches, especially if they are frightened or in pain, and can be extremely dangerous.No matter how great your concern you should 
Three magic words should be thought of
LEAVE IT ALONE!It would be in your best interests to leave any wild animal alone and contact the
 RSPCA or your local wildlife centre, via Help Wildlife, for advice.

Any animal seriously injured should be referred to a Vet as soon as possible.

Young animals on their own or without a parent have not necessarily been abandoned. DO NOT go near them or attempt to pick them up – get advice