A pair of “bonded” spotted owls have been released back into the wild down a “woodland wedding aisle” after being cared for at a sanctuary.
Snowball and Wotsit were found injured on the side of the road in different parts of Suffolk about four weeks ago.
During rehabilitation at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in Stonham Apostle, the pair bonded, snuggling together.
Although the team cannot be sure of his gender, they believe that Snowball is a male and hope that he will be with a female, Wotsit.
Jess Barrell, senior hawker and head of the sanctuary’s hospital, released the pair in a forest at a popular wedding venue in the village of Henley, north of Ipswich, on Friday.
“These two came to us as singles, but they spent time in an aviary to build their fitness and develop their hunting skills, and within that time they formed pair bonds so they spent all their time together with each other, as it were. absolutely beautiful,” she said.
The falconer, Nick Wallbridge, said it was not easy to tell the sex of the barred owl.
“You have to look at the size, and Wotsit is a bit bigger so we believe she’s female, while Snowball is smaller – we’re almost certain he’s male, but it’s hard to be 100% sure without a DNA test, ” he said.
Ms Barrell has high hopes for the newly released pair, now they are fit and healthy.
They were ready to “start their new life together”, she said.
When the two were released, they flew under the wedding arch at the end of the wood passage.
“These two little owls, as a couple … going down the aisle together … couldn’t be more perfect,” she said.
Both have identification numbers.
“Hopefully in the future we’ll see these guys nesting around locally. They can have a range of up to 10km (six miles), and the other bird population could decide whether they stay here – but we hope they’ll stay – we’d love to see them again,” Ms Barrell said.
“In the next year or two we may even see young people from these two.
“But for now, they are going to start their new lives in the Suffolk wilderness. This is the best part of what we do – to get these birds back where they belong.”
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