Background and stage one
Every year the Hawk Conservancy Trust can receive up to 30 wild young Tawny Owls, the bulk of which arrive during May. Our mission when this happens is to ensure that the owls can be released back into the wild when they are old enough. That means absolute minimal human contact. It is essential that they should retain their fear of humans and not see humans as a food provider. Chicks that are not old enough to feed themselves are placed with other owls - as closely related as possible - and are foster-reared. As soon as the chicks are able to feed themselves they are kept in a crèche with other young Tawny Owls until they are ready for release and able to fend for themselves. They are then released into a safe area in the wild.
The Hawk Conservancy Trust firmly believes that its responsibility to the young Tawny Owls extends beyond the point of release to the wild. As a result, between 2005 and 2007, in a joint project with the RSCPA at West Hatch in Somerset, post-release monitoring by radio-tracking was used to assess rates of survival in the release owls, which was compared with survival rates of wild Tawny Owls.
This part of the Tawny Owl project has finished, and the results can be found in the Publications section. Overall, the results indicate that survival of the reared and released owls did not differ significantly from wild owls.
The second stage of the Trust’s Tawny Owl project investigated the extent to which rehabilitated owls use post-release support (food and shelter). This stage of the project ran for three years between 2008 and 2010.
Results from the second stage of the project are being collated and a report will be available in the Publications section when completed.