Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:01 UK

Hunt on for escaped bird of prey

Sue, missing European eagle owl
Sue has been missing for four weeks after flying out of his aviary

A huge bird of prey capable of hunting animals as large as roe deer could be roaming the Cheshire countryside.

Sue, a one-year-old male European Eagle Owl, escaped from an aviary at Stockley Farm, near Northwich, in April and has not been seen since.

In the wild, eagle owls mainly hunt mammals such as rabbits and hares, but keeper Gary Buckles, 48, said people with small pets do not need to worry.

Sue was born and raised in captivity and is "quite tame", said Mr Buckles.

Eagle owls, which are commonly held in captivity in England, are the largest species of owl in the world.

You'll know him from his size. There's no other bird around here quite as large
Gary Buckles, falconer

Sue has a wingspan of about 5ft (1.5m) and weighs 5.5lb (2.5kg) and was used for falconry shows at Stockley Farm in Arley.

Although wild eagle owls are capable of hunting roe deer, Mr Buckles said they mainly concentrated on smaller mammals.

"There has been talk of them taking foxes and they take birds at night time," he said.

"I wouldn't want to worry people about him taking cats and dogs because the bird we lost, Sue, wasn't trained to hunt. He's quite tame.

"I opened the aviary and he flew just a little bit too fast and flew out by the side of me.

"We did see him that night but he wouldn't come back and then the next day there was no sign of him."

'Largest' bird

The owl has been missing for four weeks and Mr Buckles said he was now worried he had come to some "mishap".

But if any Cheshire residents do spot Sue, Mr Buckles is urging them to contact the farm.

"You'll know him from his size. There's no other bird around here quite as large," he added.

"He's a lot larger than a buzzard for example. In fact, they eat buzzards in the wild."



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