Do we loose birds?

Very very few are lost permanently. In fact only one in the last three years and that was on an exceptionally wind day. We actually found the transmitter from that bird 8 miles away, still attached to the deck feather that had just fallen out. The birds are loved, well-fed, exercised and cared for here so have nothing to gain by leaving. Thankfully when they do fly off, we have a super tracking device to locate them.

What do the birds eat?

The birds have a varied diet, and it depends on what that bird could expect to eat in the wild. For example, the Fish Eagles are fed fish along with beef and rabbit, but not many small mammals; whereas the smaller birds get chicken, mice, quail, and beef. In fact, pretty much what they would actually eat in the wild. The food arrives frozen and is freshly prepared every day.

Why are the birds on the lawn tethered?

Allthough many of the birds (and certainly once they have been fed) would sit on their blocks and perches, they can be disturbed by visitors running around the Centre which, by the way is why we ask you to walk or visitors getting too close. In addition, they recognise our falconers and would try to fly, or bate, to them as they walk past. If left in an aviary there is a risk that to get to a falconer they would fly into the wire, damaging themselves and their feathers.

Does it hurt them to be tethered?

No, they have very strong legs designed to hit prey at high speed. Not all our flying team birds are tethered – the owls and vultures are free in an aviary and fly out to do the demonstrations and back in at the end. You will not see tethered owls at the Centre, it makes them depressed.

Can we bring dogs into the Centre?

NO – not all dogs are well behaved, especially being in close proximity to something with flapping wings, the birds are not used to dogs, and as they would do in the wild would flap their wings to try and escape, so in effect, one feeds off the other. The birds in the aviary would crash into the wire, which could be fatal. If you must bring your dog, please feel free to walk it in our car park as often as you like, especially in the hot weather.

Why do we hood the birds?

The hood is a cap made specially to fit the bird and because it is dark inside the hood, the bird thinks it is nightime and becomes calm and goes to sleep, especially with some of the more exciteable falcons.

Are all the birds at the Centre flown?

Not all, as many are here as part of a breeding programme if they are special birds. Once birds pair (and some do for life) we leave them alone and do not bother them except for cleaning the aviary and general health checks. If we took one out to fly, the one left would feel lonely and deserted and they might not pair up again. Of course, if the pair don’t get on, we swap them around until they find someone they fancy and would like to live with. We have flying at any one time 40 birds or about 25% of the birds at the Centre. Obviously, some of the birds are rescued/disabled, so cannot fly.

Why do birds wear bells?

So we can hear them, especially the hawks when we are out hawking in the woods.

Why do we not allow stroking of the birds?

You will rarely see even a falconer stroking the bird and that is not because they don’t like them. The three main reasons are 1) they don’t like being touched by strangers 2) stroking removes the natural oils from their feathers 3) they might bite.

What is the largest bird at the Centre?

Rheal, the Andean Condor which comes out on our special evenings during the summer.

What is the smallest bird at the Centre?

The Little Owl, although the smallest owl in the wild is one of the Pigmy Owl varieties.

Do we sell feathers?

It is illegal to sell most feathers and in fact, we keep most of the decent ones for mending (imping) broken feathers.