Marsh harrier released after JSPCA surgery

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The animal – a large bird of prey which has a wingspan of around a metre – underwent a 40-minute operation to stitch up part of its back and crop – an expanded muscular pouch near its throat.

During the procedure vets also removed part of a rabbit’s jaw lodged in the bird’s crop.

The marsh harrier, which was found in a field above Bonne Nuit, then spent about a week recovering at the JSPCA’s St Saviour headquarters, before being released at Les Platons in Trinity.

Babs Keywood, the organisation’s PR and media manager, said: ‘It is definitely the first marsh harrier I can remember dealing with. It is not the type of animal we would normally operate on.’

Before it was released staff attached a tag to its leg so it could be identified in the future.

Miss Keywood added: ‘We covered all the costs of caring for the bird. That is why we rely so heavily on members of the public for their help.’

Conservationist Mike Stentiford said the birds had flourished in the Island after a pair took up residence and produced a chick in 2002.

He added: ‘In the winter roost last year, between January and February, there were eight pairs that bred and around 18 individual birds during that time. It will probably be roughly the same this year.’

The ornithologist said the animal may have been injured after a collision, possibly with a car.

‘They do have territorial disputes but they do not tend to fight to such an extent that it would produce that kind of injury,’ he said.

‘This one was a young bird so it may have hit something or glanced off a car. No one is really sure.

‘Their wingspan is just over a metre, tip to tip and the females weigh between 540g to 800g. Apart from the heron, which is taller, the harrier is probably the Island’s biggest bird.’

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