Spring Has Sprung (almost)

We all know that spring has finally arrived when we see the first animated signs of material being collected for nest building.  Spring 2012 certainly seems to have been a little tardy weather-wise, but our resident birds at the Sanctuary aren’t fooled and have been busy making preparations and settling down to do what comes naturally at this time of year.
 
Our first 2012 chick was produced by our well-established pair of Lanner Falcons, Jem and Flint.  Jem is now twelve years old and Flint is fourteen and they have been very successful parents over the years.  Their progeny includes April and Lock who are both valuable and inspiring members of the Sanctuary’s flying display team.  Lanner Falcons can live into their mid twenties in captivity, but obviously mid teens is a good age to still be breeding, so it’s especially encouraging that Jem and Flint have been successful again this year.

 European-Chicks-2-May-12 Rheia2
Not quite "There Once Was An Ugly Duckling…"
- but you get the idea! This young European Eagle Owlet
will soon develop into as impressive an adult as its
mother, Rheia (resident at the centre for 18 years now).


On the 13th and 17th April respectively, Rheia our European Eagle Owl hatched two youngsters, which are now being hand reared and are doing really well.  They are already destined for new homes, one in Essex and one in York and will be ready to make their respective journeys in a couple of weeks when they are around five weeks old.  This may seem a little young but, in the wild, European Eagle Owlets are ready to leave the nest at about   5 – 7 weeks old.  They are still looked after by both parents for around 20 – 24 weeks and of course will be well cared for in their new homes.

European-Chicks-1-May-12-sm
Despite being hatched only 4 days apart, the obvious difference in size
of these two month-old European Eagle Owlets illustrates
their rapid rate of growth

 
It’s always nice to have a ‘first’ and this year it was the turn of our Harris Hawks Dewhurst and Muldoon.  Muldoon has never had a clutch before, but produced two youngsters, which hatched successfully on 27th April.
 
Another pair who have been very successful parents are Tamsin and Darwin, our Southern Boobook Owls.  They usually tend to have one or two chicks and were the proud parents of ‘Auckland’ a few years back, a friendly little fellow, not only a favourite during flying displays but also tremendously popular on school visits.  Tamsin and Darwin have definitely produced young again this year, but as yet it’s difficult to say how many. Whenever possible, the Sanctuary’s breeding pairs are left undisturbed, so that they can rear their young naturally.  At such a sensitive time, it can mean that their aviaries have to be left unattended for a while, until the chicks have grown enough so that the parents don’t feel threatened by a human presence.  Obviously the falconers keep a close, monitoring eye on proceedings, in case help is needed, but otherwise it’s exciting to wait and see what spring has brought with it this year.