Hikers: Leave baby owls on ground, says French bird league

Walkers may spot baby owls on the ground at this time of year but the behaviour is normal as they explore and they only need help if they are definitely injured or at-risk

23 March 2021
By Hannah Thompson

If you spot a baby owl on the ground at this time of year there is no need to worry, a French bird protection group has said, as they are probably not hurt and this behaviour is normal.

Baby owls may be seen on the ground near trees at this time of year - from February to April - by walkers or hikers, who can worry that they are in distress. 

But bird protection group the Ligue de protection des oiseaux (LPO) has asked walkers not to pick up the owls to take them to an animal rescue centre or vet, unless certain that they are injured or at risk.

This is because seeing baby owls on the ground right now “is a completely normal phenomenon”, Yohan Charbonnier, scientific manager at the LPO, told local news France Bleu.

He said: “When the chicks become a little bigger, they go off to explore and they might fall from their nest. When night falls, the parents and chicks will communicate through calls and sounds, and the parents will continue to come and feed them.”

The only thing that might be useful to the fallen owls is to put them in an open cardboard box and place them a little higher off the ground, if you are afraid that they might be at risk from attack from nearby cats or dogs.

Mr Charbonnier said that the only time to worry, and rescue a baby owl, is if you can see any injuries or “traces of blood”, or if the owl seems lethargic and apathetic, and doesn’t react to movement.

In this case, you can alert the local wild fauna centre by calling 06 28 01 39 48, or take them to the closest vet.

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