Just as an East London school boy wins a competition award for his image of a barn owl flying across Dagenham, the RSPB announce that what is possibly Britain's best loved owl is having a bit of hard time of it.
The competition, called Life Between the Lines, was organised by TfL and the RSPB working in ca-hoots, and was designed to highlight the tenacity of London's wildlife, and the abundance of natural havens across the city. In addition to the image of tyto alba, recognition was given to Mabley Green Community Meadow, a dynamic neighbourhood project just north of the Blackwall Tunnel.
Anyway, back to our troubled feathered friend. Seems the snow is decimating their numbers: younger owls are not equipped to fend for themselves in such unseasonably cold weather, and are having trouble finding food. Now the RSPB is the first to recognise that foodwise there isn't much we can do: unlike yer streetwise pigeon or your cocky little starling, owls are not particularly happy on a diet of kebab leftovers and discarded cheesey Wotsits. They do of course prefer mice or chicks, alive or freshly dead. But you can help by being more vigilant during extra-cold periods: if you find an injured bird, report it. The incredibly helpful Barn Owl Trust even has a slightly surreal web page on what to do if you find a dead owl.
Birds are a Londoner's constant companion (when we take our headphones off long enough to hear them, that is), and the very least we can do is to give them a helping wing over rough patches.