Not just any ‘owl’ bird


Owl at Giant's Causeway credit Karenann Toney_2

A beloved pet owl and her owners returned to the Giant’s Causeway to thank the National Trust staff and locals who assisted in her safe return.

When Patricia O’Callaghan and Terry Turkington were holidaying on the North Coast two weeks ago, they could hardly have anticipated the drama that would unfold when their beloved pet escaped.

The couple are proud surrogate parents to adolescent Barn Owl, Arya, whom they have nurtured since she was a hatchling. Although still new to her trade, Arya is one of several birds that make up Falconry Services Belfast – a specialist pest control business that uses birds of prey to flush pigeons and other nuisance birds out of buildings (such as schools and warehouses).

Where ever Patricia and Terry go, Arya is never far behind – and having such an unusual pet always draws a crowd when in public.

“I was showing Arya to a girl when a crow came down and knocked Arya on the back,” explained Terry. Disoriented, the frightened owl flew off in the opposite direction.

“I was devastated,” said Patricia, who was quick to launch a six day long manhunt (owl-hunt?) for her beloved bird. “One evening we received a call from local lady, Kathleen Millar, to say Arya had been sighted close to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre. We immediately rushed up and with the help of some fresh meat we managed to tempt her down from the cliffs.”

“She’s a little thin and shocked – she has always been a captive owl – but apart from that, she’s fine. I’m just so relieved to have her back,” said Patricia.

“We were beginning to think she might have found a boyfriend in the disused farm buildings,” joked Terry. “She was gone for quite a long time.”

Patricia and Terry said they would like to thank all the eagle-eyed folks who helped in the recapture of Arya, and especially thanked National Trust rangers and staff for their efforts reuniting owl and owner.

Anyone interested in meeting wonderful birds of prey will get the opportunity to do so when Terry and his team return to the North Coast for Broughgammon Open Farm weekend, Ballycastle, 13-14 June.

Owl at Giant's Causeway credit Karenann Toney_1

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