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Who needs to tweet when you've got the Roy-owl MailAnimal sanctuary trained owls to deliver internal mail after budget cutsKirkleatham Owl Centre in North Yorkshire had a backlog of mailBirds trained to recognise primary colours and pick up post from trays
23:00 GMT, 31 March 2013
08:01 GMT, 1 April 2013
It is a wizard idea straight out of Harry Potter and ensures the post always wings its way out on time.
Experts at an animal sanctuary have trained their owls to deliver the internal mail – just like the birds of prey do at the fictional Hogwarts School.
Kirkleatham Owl Centre in North Yorkshire introduced the feathered posties after budget cuts forced it to reduce staff numbers, leaving a backlog of mail.
Roy-owl Mail: Just like at Harry Potter's fictional Hogwarts School, owls at the Kirkleatham Owl Centre have been trained to deliver internal post from a series of coloured trays
A wizard idea: With a flap of the wings the feathered postie heads off to deliver his letters around the two mile-wide site
In full flight: Staff at the animal sanctuary say they are still getting used to the birds flying between offices
When high-flying trainer Amy Smith hit on the idea of using the owls, colleagues were sceptical, but she managed to persuade them it was far from a bird-brained plan because of the owls’ innate aptitude for the job.
Yesterday Miss Smith, 19, said: ‘Transporting a letter is no different to transporting wild prey they have caught.
'It’s just about training them to pick it up and drop it in the correct places.’
Eight of the centre’s 45 owls have been specially trained since the ‘Roy-owl Mail’ project began last week.
The birds have been taught to recognise six primary colours, each coded with a letter from A to F.
This enables them to swoop down and pick up items of post from six colour co-ordinated out-trays, which are lettered accordingly, and deliver them to in-trays of the same colour elsewhere on the two-square-mile site.
Last night Royal Mail declined to say whether it would consider using owls to improve efficiency.
Efficient: The Royal Mail declined to say whether it would consider using owls, which were introduced at the sanctuary after budget cuts lead to a backlog of mail