Evan the Eagle Owl

12th Apr, 2017

Written by Dr Andrew Rissik BvSC, Ou Kaapse Weg Veterinary Clinic

Evan is a Spotted Eagle Owl that Mr and Mrs Bloch found in their garden one afternoon in February 2017. The owl was injured and flapping helplessly so they alerted Ou Kaapse Weg Vet in Kirstenhof. My brother, Michael, and I were able to capture the terrified bird and bring it back to the clinic.

The wing was beyond saving

Unfortunately, Evan had sustained serious injury to his right wing, the cause of which remains unknown. The wing itself, sadly, was beyond saving and so, after stabilising Evan and ensuring he was otherwise unharmed, we performed an amputation of the injured wing. Evan spent the next few days recovering in the clinic after the operation.

We contacted World of Birds in Hout Bay asking if they would be willing and able to take Evan into their care and they kindly agreed to take in our one-winged friend. He’s been there now almost a month and appears to have recovered fully from his ordeal. He will be situated in a large enclosure with other Spotted Eagle Owls, where he will hopefully be able to live a full and happy life!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share Evan’s story!

Claire Peche, Animal Collections Manager of World of Birds, shares…

It all started when I received a call at work from Dr Andrew Rissik. He said that his vet practice had received a Spotted Eagle Owl that looked like it had been hit by a car; the owl had sustained a badly broken wing. He firstly wanted to know what quality of life the bird would have if they amputated his wing and, secondly, if we could accept him at World of Birds thereafter. 

I have dealt with many wild owls over my 20 years at World of Birds, most of which have sustained injuries to their wings because of an MVA (motor vehicle accident); I could say with confidence that Evan would cope well without his wing. In our owl sanctuary we have many Spotted Eagle Owls with permanent wing injuries and their lives are as natural as it can get for birds that cannot fly and are unable to be released. Their enclosures are designed in such a way that they can get from the ground onto different heighted perches until they get to the tops of the trees. They breed yearly and raise their chicks as they would in the wild.

Moving up in the world

Evan arrived at World of Birds a few days after his amputation and has been doing well ever since. He was kept indoors for about a week to monitor his eating and recovery from his ordeal. This brave owl then moved into an outdoor enclosure by himself for another week. Within minutes, Evan hopped his way up, perch by perch, until he was at the very top perch in his enclosure, happily looking down on the world again. Here, again, our speckled friend was monitored for eating and general health issues.

During the following week, Evan was moved into our communal bird of prey hospital enclosure. He now enjoys the company of four other Spotted Eagle Owls, an African Goshawk and my boy, Mr Bear, an American Black Vulture (also an amputee). The other owls sport injuries of their own; two have a broken wing each, one has a broken leg, and the fourth has brain damage. Evan has held his own amongst this motley crew and is thriving. His little wing stump has healed beautifully and has even sprouted new feathers.

The next and most important step for Evan and the other new owls is being integrated into the big enclosures in the park itself. Here they can form bonds, breed, and spend the rest of their lives in a protective and loving environment doing what comes naturally.

Thank you to everyone involved in Evan’s story. This is just one little owl out of hundreds of birds and animals that are hit by cars and left for dead. All it takes is one person to begin a chain reaction and save a life. It was great that the Blochs helped an injured owl they found in their garden, and so kind of the Ou Kaapse Weg Vet to give Evan a chance at a second life. This is such a beautiful and encouraging story and I am so grateful to have played a part in it.

For more information, World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary, in Hout Bay, is the largest bird park in Africa and is home to over 3000 birds (and small mammals and reptiles), many of which are rescued. The Sanctuary also serves as hospital (for birds like Evan), orphanage and breeding centre, caring for injured birds and animals, and the breeding of many bird and animal species. Some threatened species successfully bred include our national bird, the Blue Crane; the Bald Ibis; the NeNe or Hawaiian Goose; and several rare South American Marmosets and Tamarins. They also aim to educate the public about birds.