A BROOD of baby owls are regaining their strength at an animal rescue centre in Dorset after falling from their nests and becoming separated from their mothers.

The five tawny owls are undergoing flying lessons and learning how to break up food at the Dorset Wildlife Rescue Centre in Lytchett Matravers.

Sarah Boswell, who runs the centre with her partner Chris Easton, said: “This year, along with the usual influx of fox cubs, hedgehogs and ducklings, we have had our first tawny owlets in four years.

“We’re not sure if this is due to high winds or just a coincidence but four arrived to us within a week.”

At around 20 days old owls start hopping between branches and testing their wings, known as branching, but sometimes the chicks fall and are unable to get back to their nests.

It’s thought most of the owlets were branching when they fell and became separated from their mothers.

Ms Boswell said: “We try to encourage people to leave them if they can because sometimes they can climb up the tree or the mothers come and feed them but this isn’t always the case.”

When the owls are strong enough and able to catch food for themselves they will be released back into the wild.

In preparation for their release Eric, Nell, Callan, Sam and Nate have been learning how to fly and fend for themselves.

Mrs Boswell said: “Chris is teaching them how to fly in our hallway.

“Initially we were feeding them all by hand with cut up mice, but after 24 hours they were taking them whole.

“Within five days, all the owlets preferred us to leave the mice for them to eat on their own.”