7 APRIL 2018 • 2:00PM
A rare owl badly injured in a road accident has been given the gift of flight after a double wing transplant.
The injured Little Owl lost several of its vital flight feathers and others were damaged beyond repair. It would have perished in the wild.
A member of the public rescued the bird and took it to the Wildlife Aid Foundation, where vet Maru Urbina rebuilt both the owl’s wings by grafting donor flight feathers from a dead owl into the empty feather shafts.
The detailed procedure is known as imping and is rarely carried out on wild birds.
Feathers used from the donor wing were matched to the correct location on the live wing. Vets carefully cut and angled each one before attaching it with surgical glue.
Wire was also used to create artificial spines to make grafting easier. The owl’s broken and damaged feathers were also removed and replaced.
Little owls are rare in the UK and it is suspected that just a few thousand breeding pairs remain after dramatic population decline in the past 50 years.
The injured owl was believed to be a few months old and was discovered in Southall, Middlesex flapping around on the ground.