European eagle owl spotted in Devon

European eagle owl in Devon
Image caption The owl spent a day in Sarah Short's garden

A rare owl has been seen and filmed in north Devon.

There have been a few sightings of the European eagle owl in the Westward Ho! area over several weeks. They can have a wing span of up to 6ft (1.8m).

One teenager captured the female bird on camera when it spent the whole day in her garden.

Local experts said they thought the owl escaped from a private collection. They added that it seemed well fed but that they would continue to monitor it.

'Flying well'

Sarah Short said of the day it stayed in her garden: "At first I just thought it was any large bird, but my mum said it was an owl.

"It would sit there and turn its head, and now and again have a wash."

David Rampling, of the North Devon Bird of Prey Centre, has been observing the bird, which is one of the largest species of owl in the world.

He said he had had reports of it being spotted in areas with pheasants and of it eating road kill.

He said: "It's looking incredibly healthy and flying really well, even in strong winds, so we've no real concerns for its health."

Mr Rampling added that he believed the owl should should survive the winter, but that he would try to capture it if it showed any signs of struggling.

The RSPB said the owls were Europe's largest and the bird was widely kept in captivity.

It added the bird preyed on a wide range of birds and mammals, including rabbits and pheasants.

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