Wildlife Conferences


Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland


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  Birds of Prey



Read the REHABILITATORS section of ADULT BIRD first
Extra species specific information for long term husbandry below



  • Housing

Initially they will need a large cage with space for the bird to stretch its wings comfortably and a thick branch for a perch
When recovered and no longer receiving treatment they should be moved to a large skylight aviary (an aviary with solid sides and only mesh on the roof – prevents feather damage and reduces stress) for you to check the bird’s flying ability, and for the bird to acclimatise to the weather and build up its flight muscles

buzzard in skylight aviary aviary little owl on perch
© Becki Lawson
© Becki Lawson
© Becki Lawson
  • Handling

Sharp claws and beak, wear gloves or use towel
Bird may lay on its back with talons upwards in defence, offer towel or glove for it to attach itself to then cover head and body with second towel and quickly restrain bird by taking a firm hold around the ankles to restrain the talons, and other hand round the shoulders to prevent wings flapping

An owl on its back may act nearly limp, do not release hold of talons, can arouse quickly


See general RELEASE section above first
A falconer or bird of prey expert should be consulted for advice
Seek assistance from expert organisations with knowledge of the whereabouts of particular species at different times of year. See CONTACTS page

Species specific considerations
Hard release if in care for short period
Hand reared birds may be best suited to the soft release technique of "hacking back", mainly an “aviary hack” where the aviary is erected in a suitable release area and the birds are fed discreetly for a few weeks before the aviary is opened
Barn owls chicks are sometimes placed in a suitable nest box in an appropriate building at 4-6 weeks of age. Food is provided daily in decreasing amounts in order to encourage the chicks to find their own food

eagle cage eagle feeding platform
© Damian Clarke
© Damian Clarke
  Sleeve to deliver food without imprinting

Species specific release locations:

Barn owl

low-lying open farmland and woodland edges

Short eared owl

woods and coniferous plantations near open grassland


open countryside and even in urban areas


woodland and scrub


pasture interspersed with hedgerows and small woods

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