Owl expert says giant bird of prey is settling into village life

A giant eagle owl has stunned villagers in Ormesby St Margaret, Norfolk

This stunning shot of a Eurasian eagle owl was captured by Tony Bushkes in Ormesby on Christmas Day. Since then residents have gone out of their way to catch a glimpse of the bird of prey, likely to have escaped from captivity. - Credit: Tony Bushkes

A giant owl that has caused a flap in a Norfolk village appears to have settled into its new home well according to an expert on the species.

The giant Eurasian eagle owl has been seen in Ormesby, near Great Yarmouth in the past month in wooded areas, with speculation it has escaped from a zoo or collection.

Nigel Middleton, a conservation officer at the Hawk and Owl Trust in Fakenham, says the fact the bird of prey seems at home in the village means it has learnt to survive in the wild.

Mr Middleton also said the bird would probably be feasting on carrion or on mice or rabbits and if it has escaped from a zoo or collection it is adapting well to its new environment.

Conservation officer Nigel Middleton at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve. Picture: Ian Burt

Nigel Middleton, conservation officer at the Hawk and Owl Trust - Credit: IAN BURT

He said: "They are quite capable of living in the wild. Although they are imprinted on humans, their instincts will kick in when they get hungry.

"Full blown eagle owls have been known to take muntjac deer. But normally they will take rabbits and mice and carrion."

Mr Middleton added that the bird of prey could also take puppies and cats but doubted it would in this case as they can easily avoid it and the owl was probably happy eating carrion and smaller creatures.

He also added if the Ormesby bird was still imprinted to a person it would naturally approach people looking for food, which some people may take as it acting aggressively.

Most Read

While Mr Middleton suspects the owl has escaped from captivity, he said there was a small chance it could have come from Europe as they have been known to land on North Sea oil rigs and it is believed some may be living in northern England.

He added that Eurasian eagle owls have been used in falconry displays due to their size and looks.

Richard Cooper, chief executive officer of the Cumbrian-based World Owl Trust, said the owl was classified as an alien invasive species and was common across Europe.

He said they lived on the coast of Holland and Belgium and the owl could have flown from there to Ormesby, although he said it was probably an escaped bird of prey.