OWLS have been lifting the spirits of elderly care home residents in Huddersfield as part of a remarkable therapy initiative.
The usually solitary birds brought residents at Longroyds and Pilling House Care Home, on Pilling Lane, Skelmanthorpe, out of their shells during a flying visit.
Willow the Eagle Owl, Orville the Little Owl, and Pebbles the Barn Owl were among those visiting from Wise Owl Bird of Prey Rescue, based in Huddersfield.
For 92-year-old Brian King, the birds brought back animal encounter memories from his past. He said: “I never kept birds, only fed them in the garden, but I love all animals. I used to look after and breed rabbits in my younger days.”
Liz Casey, 84, said: “It was so lovely of these people to take care of the beautiful birds that had been injured or couldn’t survive in the wild. My favourite was Willow.”
Orville was also a favourite among the residents. Annie Wardle, 93, said “he’s a cheeky one” after he landed on her hand for a treat.
Animal therapy sessions, such as the birds of prey experience, boost residents’ wellbeing and help tackle feelings of loneliness, according to home manager Tracy Keenan.
She said: “The residents thoroughly enjoyed the visit from Wise Owl Bird of Prey Rescue and we’d like to thank them for taking the time to come and see us.
“We all enjoyed listening to the stories about each bird and holding them. Everyone’s faces lit up when we watched them flying from person to person and they had a go wearing the big glove so they could hold them.
“You only need to watch the residents’ interacting with the birds to see the benefits these sorts of sessions have, from boosting everyone’s mood to reduce feelings of stress and loneliness, easing anxiety to improving overall wellbeing.
“I’m sure we’ll be running many more animal encounter sessions in future and hopefully we can welcome back our feathered friends again one day as well.”