Raptor M.O.T.'s

Well, once again SOS was called in to do a bit of SAVING this week. This time it was in order to give a pair of Harris’ Hawks a happier home!

About a week ago we got a phone call relating to the two birds. Unfortunately their current owner was no longer able to continue caring for them and therefore had made the very responsible decision of donating them to a Bird of Prey centre (in this case he chose SOS) so that they may receive the best possible care and potential for a good quality of life.

Our two new arrivals at SOS were, I’m glad to report, in relatively good condition, with no visible signs of feather damage or any other serious complaints. All they really needed was a general clean up - what some might refer to as a Raptor MOT!

To carry this out, the birds were first hooded and then carefully examined by our head Falconer, Andy Hulme. Once it was established that both Harris’s Hawks were in good health, they were then furnished with new equipment so they could be handled with the least amount of stress.

Next came the coping of beaks & trimming of talons.

Coping the beak of a captive raptor is a necessary process. In the wild the birds will generally keep their beaks in good working order - wearing them down of their own accord.

In captivity, successive generations of captive bred birds don’t seem to be quite so fussed about their overall appearance. If not routinely coped, their beaks can often become overgrown - which in turn can lead to problematic feeding habits and dietary problems. So it’s true to say that a bird that looks it’s best will also feel its best, too.

As shown in the photo above, the bird is first immobilised by wrapping it in a towel and then hooded, this to prevent it becoming alarmed or damaging itself.

Its beak is then trimmed and filed. Similarly the talons are given a trim and generally tidied up. Neither process hurts or harms the bird in any way and is really the equivalent you trimming your nails.

We hope to be able to give these birds a new lease of life here at SOS. Confident that once they have familiarised themselves with their new surroundings, they will become a valuable addition to our existing flying team, which help us demonstrate the various aspects of of raptor care & conservation to visitors.

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HELP! We’d like some names for these two birds!

The only thing that remains for me to say is that both of the hawks (one male and one female) came to us without names. So if you have any suggestions as to what you think they should be called, please
send me an email with your suggestions. We will post all the best entries here on our site and then you can pick your favourite name and suggest reasons why you think we should use it!

As they say on BIG BROTHER - YOU DECIDE!!!


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And finally, it is worth mentioning at this point that whilst it is relatively easy to obtain Harris’ Hawks (and indeed, many other birds of prey, including owls) for private ownership, they are most definitely NOT PETS and require a great deal of dedicated care! And, in my experience, if you don’t also treat any bird of prey with respect, they will soon make their feelings known.

Therefore, anyone intending to own a raptor privately should first FULLY research everything that is required for its care, and also consider the level of commitment required both in terms of the time and the money involved in keeping a bird of prey.

It is also worth remembering that most well-cared-for raptors will out-live most cats and dogs! Hawks, such as the one featured in this story, can live anything up to 20 years in captivity and European Eagle Owls for more than 30.
Which only goes to endorse the fact that falconry is definitely not an occupation to be entered into lightly. Proper training in the care and maintenance of a bird is of the utmost importance before the acquisition of any raptor. If you would like more in formation about the various courses that are be available on this subject, please
e-mail me.