As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Cruelty of bird sanctuary owner caught kicking and punching his owls

As the owner of a respected bird sanctuary, William MacKenzie displayed his snowy owls and hawks at country shows and appeared on the BBC to discuss his devotion to his birds.

But when out of public view – or at least when he thought he was – the 68-year-old used a brutal method to rule his roost.

After being filmed by neighbours kicking and punching birds he kept in his garden, MacKenzie was this week banned from keeping animals for life.

And despite claiming that his birds were ‘like my children’, he was told by a magistrate that he had caused them fear and distress.

MacKenzie kept 26 birds including a snowy owl, African spotted eagle owl and a Harris hawk, at his home in Shrewsbury.

Over a two-year period, horrified neighbours filmed him abusing and tormenting the birds which he kept on perches and in cramped cages in his back garden.

He was once seen slapping a barn owl in the face before kicking it into a corner of the garden.

He was also filmed hitting and kicking an eagle owl and holding a barn owl by its wing before hurling it to the ground.

In another clip, MacKenzie can be seen using his lawnmower to scare the birds by revving it close to a stack of cages.

Two distressed barn owls desperately flap their wings as the blades of the mower come within inches of their perches.

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