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Pet owl takes flight

PUBLISHED: 11:20 23 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK woman who has lost her pet owl has today warned Harry Potter fans that the birds are wild animals and not cuddly pets.

Reports across the country have told how some parents are trying to buy Snowy owls, which feature in the blockbuster book and film, as pets for their children.

A SUFFOLK woman who has lost her pet owl has today warned Harry Potter fans that the birds are wild animals and not cuddly pets.

Reports across the country have told how some parents are trying to buy Snowy owls, which feature in the blockbuster book and film, as pets for their children.

But Lesley Love, who lives on the outskirts of Ipswich and has six years experience of caring for her Tawny owl Ollie, said they are difficult creatures to look after and should not be bought as pets.

Mrs Love, a cook at Broke Hall School, is desperately searching for Ollie after he took flight last Saturday morning and never returned home.

He has been reared by her and her family ever since they saved his life when he was just a chick and would no longer be able to survive in the wild.

His diet consists of day old chicks and as he is now tame he has never learned to hunt.

Mrs Love, who lives in Foxhall, said she now fears that Ollie will starve if he is left in the wild much longer.

She would be thrilled if someone found him, but hopes that no avid Harry Potter fans would be tempted to keep him for themselves because the nocturnal birds are so difficult to look after.

Owls play a focal part in the book and the new blockbuster movie because every wizard at Harry Potter's school has one.

But Mrs Love said: "They are not pets they are wild animals and they need to be treated with that respect.

"We only have Ollie because we brought him back to life when he was a chick."

Mrs Love and her husband Nick found Ollie when he was a tiny chick.

After taking advice from the RSPCA and an experienced owl carer they decided that if he was to have any chance of life they should try and rear him themselves.

They were successful and Ollie has since grown up with Mr and Mrs Love and their two sons Christopher, 20 and Richard,17.

But Mrs Love, of Foxhall Road, stressed that this is an extremely rare case and that is illegal to take birds of prey or their eggs from the wild.

She said: "If you look at the claws on an owl and their beak – they only have to get cross with you and they could injure you.

"Ollie has swooped down on me before and got my finger a couple of times with his claws."

Mrs Love also added that owls can only be bought from a licensed breeder.

If anyone finds Ollie and is able to approach him Mrs Love said that they should try to pick him up gently and put him in a box before phoning the family or the RSPCA.

She also said that it might be difficult for a stranger to get hold of him, but he can be recognised by the leather bands around his legs.

Anyone with information on the missing bird should call Mrs Love on 01473 410750.

OWL FACTFILE:

Tawny owls hunt small birds, mammals, frogs and insects by rapidly swooping down on to the prey.

The tawny owl is the one that can be heard hooting at night – the twit-twoo sound is a duet call with the male as the twit and the female as the twoo.

Tawny owls are the most common in the UK with around 20,000 pairs but there have been declines in recent years.

They are the biggest common owl with a body length of 38cm and a wingspan of 95-105cm.

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