News from the dugout!

Throughout the winter months, whilst flying displays come to a temporary halt, the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary falconry team have been working hard to renovate and, where necessary, rebuild the birds’ accommodation.

A new buzzard block was completed this week, providing spacious new aviaries for the Red Kites as well as CaraCaras, Turkey Vulture and Ferruginous Buzzards. A huge amount of work has also gone into renovating the pretty Woodland Walk where fences have been replaced, undergrowth cleared and new paths established for easier access to the Red Squirrel enlosures for wheelchairs and buggies.

This week the multi tasking team turned their attention to some major landscaping in the flying ground environs. First, with a digger on site, a large new pond was dug and lined. Not only will this enhance the aesthetics of this flat grassed area, it will also provide a context in which Lincoln the Bald Eagle can exhibit more of his innate hunting behaviours.

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All in a week's work - Matt & Pete began with the digger and just a few days later the team - aided by some great work from our volunteers - laid a sandy base in preparation for the pond lining to be added. As they say, "watch this space" - once it's filled, we'll add some pictures!

In the wild, fish forms the main proportion of an eagles’ diet - this is supplemented with small mammals, waterfowl and turtles. In captivity, Lincoln does not have access to fishing grounds, so it is hoped that he will utilise the new pond to display his fishing skills - albeit not with fish, but with poults that we will float in the pond.

Bald Eagles possess exceptional eyesight - about five times sharper than our own. Lincoln can spot a small mammal like a rabbit from a mile away, so he will have no problem focusing on food which the falconers will plant in the pond! To catch fish, eagles generally watch the water surface from a perch or whilst rising on warm thermals in the air - they are masters of soaring and in the wild a cover huge distances whilst hunting. When a target is spotted, they swoop down, dipping just their feet into the water and grabbing the fish. Eagles’ talons are razor sharp and curved - perfect implements for catching slippery fish. They close with a ratchet like effect around the prey, enabling the eagle to make off with it’s meal in a vicelike grip.

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The impressive good looks - and razor-sharp talons - of Lincoln the Bald Eagle: not to be messed with!

Once the new pond is lined and filled, careful planting of marsh-loving plants and wildflowers around the periphery, whilst the meadow area behind the pond will be planted with apposite flower seeds and left wild, offering nectar and seeds for butterflies and birds. In this way we hope to enhance our visitors’ close experience of our magnificent birds whilst endeavouring to improve the conservation status of our environment.