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As a Sanctuary, it is obviously very important to us to make sure that our resident birds are kept in a way that mimics as closely as possible the environment and conditions they would experience in the wild.  Of course the birds we have here for display & flying demonstration purposes are hand reared and so some things - such as the feeding regime - will necessarily be different, but always our priority is the health and welfare of our charges.

One such very important aspect of birds of prey is that they generally tend to be monogamous and, if possible, mate for life. Though it's sometimes difficult for us to find a mate for some of the more exotic birds we have here, every endeavour is made to pair the birds whenever possible and we're pleased to report some recent success in this department.

Still with some downy feathers on her top-knot, young Paula the American Kestrel has settled in nicely

Way back in June last year, we reported in our blog the arrival of ‘Fred’, a male American Kestrel.  It seems incredible to believe that he has been with us for over a year, but he is now nicely settled and a valued member of our flying display team.  Looking ahead to the future, we have just seen the arrival of the newest member of our raptor family - her name is ‘Paula’ and she is a female American Kestrel.  Born on the first of July this year, she came to reside with us early August, having been bred by our good friend and long-term supporter Mike Cady. Not only will Paula become part of our flying display team next year but, in the future, will go into an aviary with Fred, so that they may provide company for one another and when on display, illustrate the difference in size and colouring to their familiar rust-red European cousins.

American Kestrels are slightly smaller than their European cousins but prove to be even more colourful when mature - for more information, click here

Fred & Paula represent a special couple to us, as they have been donated in memory of another very special lady, Paula Beckett, one of the Trustees of the Sanctuary who sadly passed away in 2009, and her husband Fred, who survives her with her boys Harry & Isaac and their daughter, Eleanor.

Dazzling Nightshade

It’s our constant aim to promote the conservation of birds of prey at every conceivable opportunity and it’s really encouraging that so many people are fascinated and enthusiastic about them for many and varied reasons.  Getting married has got to be pretty high on the list of ‘important’ days in anyone’s life, so it’s rather nice for us that someone might want to share their special day with one of our birds of prey.  

One such was last Saturday when Andy travelled to north Norfolk with Nightshade, our young male Barn Owl, at the special request of a friend to the Sanctuary, Jonathan Bundock, on the occasion of his wedding.  All the guests were entranced to see young Nightshade and although many of them mentioned having seen Barn Owls in the wild, they said it was wonderful to be able to see what a truly stunning bird they are up close.

The weather played its part and it was a lovely afternoon.  Jonathan held Nightshade on his gloved fist so that he and his new wife could have their picture taken with the beautiful raptor, adding a special something to a wonderful day.