The Tawny owl was discovered by a worker at Hanson Aggregates, in Shap, last week, who took him to Paragon Vets’ Dalston surgery to be looked over.
Thankfully for the cold and shocked bird there were no injuries, and after a few nights of rest and recuperation, he was released back into the wild.
Veterinary surgeon Anne Abbs, who looked after the owl for the duration of his stay, said: “The owl had gone down under a tractor - possibly chasing prey or just to shelter from the rain - and had become completely covered in mud, particularly on its wings.
“I made an assessment at the surgery and determined that there were no physical injuries but the weight of mud was preventing him from flying.
“His treatment was a good shower with warm water to remove the majority of the mud and a warm up. It was then necessary to hospitalise him for a few days to allow him to recover and ensure he had preened his feathers back to full flight condition.
“We then checked he could fly OK, with a quick circuit of the long corridor at the Dalston surgery, and the following evening was suitable for release.
“I took him down to Hanson's and, with the help of their staff, released him - he took flight straight away and sailed over the adjacent wood.”
Paragon tends to see one or two birds a year brought in, with many of them being owls.
Birds that are injured by cars or cats are often found by members of the public, in which case they need to be seen by a vet. However, not all birds that appear in distress should be picked up and moved.
Anne adds: “If anyone finds a bird, firstly determine if it is a young bird or an adult, as 90 per cent of young birds are hanging around waiting to be fed and shouldn't be 'rescued'.
“If they are in imminent danger move them as short a distance as possible using a towel or something similar. Young tawny owls in particular come out of the nest when still quite small and downy and may fall off their branch - most can sort themselves out.
“If a bird is clearly injured or you can catch an adult bird, it needs attention. Window strikes may just be stunned - put them in a box somewhere quiet and warm and they may recover in a couple of hours.
“If a bird needs veterinary attention, contact your local practice and they will give you further instruction.
“Be aware that most birds of prey, including owls, have very sharp talons as well as beaks and can cause injuries. Also be aware that many injuries in birds are serious, particularly those to wings, and the vet may advise euthanasia of the bird as being the best option for its welfare.”