Frequently Asked Questions
Often, when visitors come to the centre, or when attending public events, many questions are asked about the birds and their welfare. These are just a few of the more important, and frequently asked questions.
Where do you get the birds ?
Most of the birds we have are captive bred, that is, bred in captivity for the purposes of falconry, or, for use in education as examples of birds found in the wild. We now concentrate on increasing our examples of birds to be found in Britain and Europe. We also have a few birds that are classified as "Endangered". This may be the the only chance our visitors will get to see these rare species. We have birds that have been confiscated from their owners, or, birds that have been rescued from the wild, that would not survive if released, because of their condition.
Can the birds fly ?
Unlike some "domestic" birds like parrots and budgies, the wing feathers on our birds are not clipped. All, with the exception of one or two rescued birds, are capable of flight. The birds are flown regularly, either as part of an activity or display.. We do not fly "moulting" birds, being above their "flying weight", there is no incentive for them to return for food, or, in some cases, damage can be done to new feathers when flying. Comparisons are made between Birds of Prey and seed-eating birds, which are seen to be flying constantly. Birds of Prey are masters of energy conservation, and only fly to hunt when they are hungry. An easy snack of road-kill or carrion, for most, is preferable to chasing prey.
Why are some of the birds tied down ?
To prevent escape. Being predators, some of the more aggressive birds see others as prey. Each one is very territorial, as such, every other resident is an intruder in their territory. Being tethered prevents those birds from attacking. Most of the birds, being captive bred, if they escaped, would not survive in the wild.
Why do the birds not have water dishes to drink from ?
The birds are provided with baths each day, except in extremely cold weather.. Occassionally, a bird may be seen "drinking". The beak of a Bird of Prey is not designed for drinking water. The "trachea", or windpipe, is located in the tongue. A Bird of Prey cannot lap water with it's tongue, and the beak can only scoop a tiny amount of water. A Bird of Prey extracts the fluids and moisture it needs from the prey. A Bird of Prey may be seen taking a "sip" of water from a bath, tilting the head back, and letting the water run down the esophagus.
What do the birds eat ?
The birds only eat meat. It is important for the digestive system of a Bird of Prey for them to eat food similar to that found in the wild. The diet is varied to include rabbit, hare, quail, duck, venison, mouse, rat, and pheasant. Red meat and game are high in protein, beneficial to the birds, in particular when they are moulting. In addition to the daily food intake, we provide supplements of vitamins to maintain health and condition.
What are the birds coughing up ?
Birds of Prey consume every part of the prey, including bones, and feathers or fur. Once the meat has been digested, the indigestible parts are regurgitated in the form of a pellet, or caste. The digestive systems of different birds varies, some digest more of the fur or feathers and bone, than others. By inspecting the contents of castes found in the wild, it is possible to determine which species it came from.
What is moulting ?
In the wild, birds will replace damaged or older feathers, usually during the summer months, after the breeding season is over, to ensure the plumage is perfect for the winter when prey becomes harder to find. Birds will moult feathers in pairs, symmetrically and in sequence, the corresponding feather from each side of the tail, or from each wing. This assures the bird is not unbalanced during flight. In captive Birds of Prey, we provide supplements to accelerate the moulting process.
Can I get a bird of prey ?
NO. Unfortunately, Birds of Prey are far too accessible to the general public. Breeders must take some responsibility for the number of Birds of Prey available for purchase, and the prices. People would think twice if the cost of a European Eagle Owl was £2,000. Very few people realise the time, dedication, accommodation, and care, a Bird of Prey requires. Most see it as an ego trip, or buy on a whim. Once the novelty wears off, the bird becomes neglected. We actively discourage people from obtaining birds, they are not pets. They require attention every day, for their lifetime, which could be 25 - 30 years. So, think again.