Little owl's road to recovery

02:02, Nov 07 2012
Little survivor: Diane Dodson of the Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust shows Tama the owl to the pupils at Rai Valley Area School after he had recovered in her care. A group of pupils and their bus driver had saved the small owl, which had a broken leg, from the side of the road. He was later released back into the wild.

A lucky owl can thank the pupils of Rai Valley Area School and their bus driver for his survival after they rescued him from the side of the road.

The pupils write: Tama the Owl survives Ordeal.

On a cool, foggy morning, the driver of the school van was on his daily run of picking up pupils on the road that runs alongside the Wakamarina River near Canvastown.

Close to Miya Dobie's home, he noticed what he thought was an unusual object that looked like a pine cone lying on the side of the road.

The driver stopped the van and jumped out to investigate further.

He and the pupils were amazed to find the object was a tiny owl, injured and in a state of shock.


Rai school pupil, Tama Joseph was given the task of nurturing the owl on the journey to school.

On their arrival, the injured bird was taken to the English classroom where it was examined by teacher Peter Juriss.

It was immediately obvious that the bird had a broken leg and was in a state of shock.

A make-shift splint constructed from ear-bud cleaners from the sick bay was strapped to the delicate little leg and a cardboard box, lined with odd bits of clothing, became the hospital bed for the patient.

Pupils cared for the bird for the rest of the day, ensuring it was warm and undisturbed under a table in the English room.

The pupils decided to name their new-found friend Tama, after the boy who held him on the way to school. Tama's journey to recovery continued when he was transferred to the care of Diane Dodson of the Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust.

Diane's special interest is the recovery of the endangered New Zealand Falcon, yet she did not hesitate to accept the emergency call for assistance from the Rai Valley pupils.

A technically challenging operation by a veterinarian took place to insert a rod in Tama's delicate leg. Several weeks of tender care by Diane followed to prepare him for release.

Fully recovered, the owl was reunited with the pupils at Rai Valley when Diane spoke to a very attentive school assembly about the importance of caring for our environment, especially our birdlife.

Gasps of joy were heard when little Tama was seen up close.

A short trip to the release area not too far from where Tama was found was made by a small group of well-wishers.

The Rai Valley Area School pupils are looking forward to hearing the hoot of many tiny Tama in their native bush in the future.

The Marlborough Express