Red kite who tried to outwit RSPCA while 'playing dead' is returned to the wild near Aberaeron

A red kite who wanted to trick RSPCA officers by repeatedly "playing dead" has been returned to the wild after a period of recovery with the animal welfare charity.

An RSPCA wildlife specialist had to set up mirrors to secretly monitor the bird while looking after him - because he kept playing dead whenever seen.

A member of the public found the red kite caught in a fence near Aberaeron and brought the bird to the nearest vets who then contacted RSPCA Cymru.

He was transferred to the care of wildlife specialists in the West Wales area for two days, before being returned to the wild on 18th February in an area near to where he was found.

During rehabilitation, the red kite continually tried to deceive RSPCA officers by pretending to be dead Credit: RSPCA

During rehabilitation, the red kite continually tried to deceive RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer Ellie West by pretending to be dead whenever she checked on him.

This deception is known as "thanatosis" and can be used by some birds as a defence mechanism.

ARO Ellie West used her own form of trickery to monitor the kite's progress - by positioning mirrors so she could check on the kite without being spotted.

Following the kite's return to the wild, she said: "Red kites are absolutely fascinating birds - and this one was certainly a tricky customer, and kept trying to have me on by playing dead.

"Thankfully, I was a good match for this trickery - known as thanatosis or 'apparent death'.

"I set up mirrors, so we could safely check on the kite from a distance and fortunately the bird was fine despite his ordeal and was soon ready to be returned to the wild, near to where he was found in the Aberaeron area. 

The red kite was hunted close to extinction in the UK and is now a protected species. Credit: RSPCA Cymru

"As this red kite took playing dead to extremes, we had to handle him when he was released - otherwise it could have taken a very long time! Thankfully, the red kite was safely returned to the wild, in what was another happy ending for RSPCA Cymru and for a member of this nation's wonderful wildlife population."