Peter Wilkinson writes:
"Rehabilitating sick and injured wild birds is a real labour of love. It takes hard work, dedicated care and real skill to get them back to the wild, which is, of course, what the law requires once a wild bird in care is fit to go. Naturally, rehabilitators are keen to know whether their released birds do get back into the wild successfully, and to this end I have been happy to ring rehabs, mainly owls and diurnal birds of prey, for a number of years. The rules of the Ringing Scheme make provision for this, subject to certain specific conditions.
Some, unfortunately, like the Tawny Owl last year that was brought in as a road casualty, nursed back to health, released where it was found, and then killed by a car the very next day, sadly do not last long, but, encouragingly, many do make it. I have just heard about my longest rehab back in the wild. Back in November 2002, a juvenile Kestrel was brought in to the Raptor Foundation near St Ives. It was thin and unable to fly but with no traumatic injuries. They looked after it until it was a decent weight and flying strongly in an aviary before releasing it in December 2002. That was all we knew of it until the last day of 2010, when it came back in to the Raptor Foundation! It was found a few miles from where it had been released. Fortunately, it has responded to treatment and has been released again where it was found the second time. Fingers crossed for it!
Eight years is not bad for a Kestrel (I've had one non-rehab recovered at nine years) and it just beats my previous longest rehab, a Tawny Owl at seven and a half years back into the wild."
Thanks to Peter Wilkinson for letting us know and to Jill Pakenham for the photo.