EENIE, Meenie, Minee, Mo – and Tiny. Behind this cute quintet of barn owls lies a sorry tale. And it is one which could be repeated across the country. The owls were taken into care by Diana Lewis of the North Devon Animal Ambulance after their owner real

EENIE, Meenie, Minee, Mo - and Tiny. Behind this cute quintet of barn owls lies a sorry tale. And it is one which could be repeated across the country.

The owls were taken into care by Diana Lewis of the North Devon Animal Ambulance after their owner realised he could not cope with them any longer.

"They became too expensive to maintain and he realised that the conditions in which they were kept were unsuitable and he could not give them the care they needed," said Diana.

First came a visit to the vet and Tiny, so named because of his small size and poor condition, is still undergoing special care at the North Devon Animal Ambulance Centre at Pottington.

The other four have been passed on to falconer and bird of prey expert Jonathan Marshall and will be cared for by him and colleague Denise Van-Himtum until good homes can be found with people who have the necessary knowledge and facilities to look after them.

All were captive bred and have the necessary registration rings. It is illegal to keep wild birds.

These did not have the conditions they needed. But at least the owner had realised this and come forward to seek help. Many other people in similar positions would have just released them, Diana said.

Jonathan, who has been caring for and flying birds of prey for 30 years, said no one should get one without knowing how to look after it.