Doctors at a veterinary hospital in eastern Hungary have been saving the lives of protected birds such as cranes, storks and eagles since 1999 by giving them prosthetic legs and fixing their wings.

A sparrow is being fed at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, June 27, 2017.
A sparrow is being fed at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, June 27, 2017.

A unique veterinary hospital in eastern Hungary is saving the lives of wild birds, including many who sustain severe injuries during their long migratory journey to Africa to escape the harsh winters of northern Europe.

Located in the Hortobagy National Park, a World Heritage site on the Great Hungarian Plain, the hospital treats, among others, protected birds such as cranes, storks and eagles that have flown into power lines, breaking their legs or wings, or have been poisoned or hit by vehicles on highways.

Hungarian veterinarian Janos Deri sets a buzzard free at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, June 27, 2017. (Reuters)
Hungarian veterinarian Janos Deri sets a buzzard free at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, June 27, 2017. (Reuters)

The wide open spaces of the National Park have preserved their traditional pastoral use, with herds of grey cattle grazing in the pastures and wetlands, a perfect place for a stopover for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds each year.

Doctors at the hospital have been saving the lives of these protected birds since 1999, by giving them prosthetic legs and fixing their wings, with around 40 percent of them eventually returning to the wild after a full recovery.

An injured stork receives a new prosthetic leg at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, June 27, 2017.  (Reuters)
An injured stork receives a new prosthetic leg at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary, June 27, 2017. (Reuters)

"What we love the most is when we receive birds that we can treat to full recovery, and set them free again," said veterinary physician Janos Deri, who founded the hospital.

The birds which cannot return to the wild stay at the centre, to the delight of tens of thousands of visitors every year.

An injured kestrel has its broken wing fixed at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary June 27, 2017. (Reuters)
An injured kestrel has its broken wing fixed at a hospital for wild birds in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary June 27, 2017. (Reuters)

They can watch the birds being operated on and treated, as the hospital also serves as an education centre.

"We ... have learned about some of the birds in the area and it is good to see the injured birds that are being taken care of," said Greg Lauttrull, 57, a structural engineer, visiting from Houston, Texas.

Source: Reuters