When a passerby spotted a damp little owl lying in a ditch near Saxmundham, England, they assumed she must be injured. When she didn’t fly away, they were certain of it.
But there was something else keeping her on the ground.
The Good Samaritan called the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary for help. During an examination, staffers were shocked when they placed the little owl on a scale and discovered that she was roughly a third heavier than they expected.
The owl weighed a little over half a pound — healthy adult little owls tend to weigh closer to a third of a pound.
“We found her to simply be extremely obese!” Suffolk Owl Sanctuary wrote on Facebook.
And where the fat was didn’t help one bit.
“She had a significant layer of fat just under the skin in particular around her thighs and abdomen,” Rufus Samkin, head falconer at the sanctuary, told The Dodo. “It’s a bit unusual for a wild owl to be so significantly overweight. We would expect a breeding female to put on weight near the beginning of the breeding season, however this amount of weight was quite significant.”
Finding herself surrounded by food, the little owl had overindulged over the holidays, as so many of us do. “[We] found that the area where she was rescued was crawling with field mice and voles due to the warm and wet winter we experienced in December,” the sanctuary wrote.
According to Samkin, the savvy owl was just taking precautions to prepare for the rough winter months ahead: “Owls often ‘over-hunt’ when there is an abundance of food and they create caches to see them through bad weather events when hunting is harder,” Samkin said.
“Clearly she was a successful hunter,” he added.
The sanctuary nicknamed the owl Plump and placed her on a strict diet. And in just a few weeks, she shed the extra weight and was feeling so much better.
“We can now happily say she has trimmed down to a more natural weight for release,” the sanctuary wrote.
Plump was released back into the countryside at the end of January, and her carers were so happy to watch her fly off gracefully.