Three Marsh Harriers with gun shot injuries which were sent to a Sicilian rehabilitation centre by BirdLife Malta this autumn were successfully released in Vendicari Nature Reserve in Sicily this month. The birds were rehabilitated by the Centro Recupero Fauna Selvatica in Messina, after sustaining gunshot injuries in Malta during the autumn migration period.
“These were some of the many birds we sent to the Sicilian rehabilitation centre this autumn, under license by MEPA and in collaboration with the Ripartizione Fanuistico Venatoria,” stated Dr Andre Raine, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, who was present at the release in Sicily. “It was fantastic to see them flying free once more, and this is a huge testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff at the rehabilitation centre.”
The birds, all juveniles, were released at Vendicari Nature Reserve where there is already a wintering population of Marsh Harriers. The site, which is a large wetland, has ample food and habitat to sustain the birds for the rest of the winter.
Birds were sent to the Centro Recupero Fauna Selvatica in Sicily as there are currently no rehabilitation facilities for wild birds in Malta. The centre has an on-site veterinarian and large outdoor aviaries where rehabilitated birds regain their strength and heal their wounds. It is well known in northern Sicily for its successes in rehabilitating injured wild birds.
Anna Giordano, the renowned Sicilian conservationist who was part of the rehabilitation team, said: “While it is a lot of hard work and effort to rehabilitate these birds, it is always worth it when we see them flying free again. We currently have 18 wild protected birds we have received from Malta, including 15 birds that were kept illegally without having necessary licenses and recently confiscated from a falconry centre by the Maltese authorities. Most of the birds are now in good shape and we hope to release more of them soon.”