Quite a lotta beak!

November 21, 2021

Many people have seen an adult gannet either in person or on the television, as they dive headfirst into the ocean from heights of upto 100 feet in order to catch their food ... but not so many have seen a juvenile gannet such as this.


Equally beautiful plumage; the adults have a lovely rich creamy-white body with pale yellow head and black wing-tips...not forgetting those piercing slate-blue eyes. The beak is razor-sharp - designed to hold onto a slippery fish, which forms the vast majority of their diet, though they do also eat squid and shrimp on occasion.


Here we have the juvenile which is a sooty brown mottled plumage, which becomes increasingly white over the five years it takes to mature. Although not yet full-grown, our gannet today was already a good two foot in length (24"), but when full grown can get to 36-43" in size; equivalent to that of a goose.


Today we were transporting it up to the hospitals at Carlisle, ready for release in a couple of days time; it had been found crash-landed inland in West Yorkshire, and Meltham Wildlife Rescue had looked after it and been building it up on a rich fish diet to prepare it for life back at sea.


We have cared for many gannets over the years at Three Owls, both those who have passed through our care and been released back to the wild, and occasionally those who chose not to return but to live out their lives in a large aviary with cliff feature and running pond. They eat a fair amount and would happily eat full herrings (swallowed whole, head-first), or even 'make do' with a dozen sardines or mackerel.


Our grateful thanks to both Kathy at Meltham, and George, Emma & Glen at Knoxwood for their assistance in her care and return to the wild.


Nigel

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