Averting a Kestrel Katastrophe




There has been a great deal of publicity about the fact that Barn Owls have lost much of their habitat  through barns and farm buildings being either pulled down or converted, but they are obviously not the only species being affected by these developments. Late last week three baby Kestrels were brought into the Sanctuary from a farm in the region because the barn they were nesting in was being demolished.  Fortunately the farmer who owns the barn realized they were there, rescued them and brought them over to us. 

The Kestrel babies have now taken up residence with falconer Dean, where they are being foster reared by Dean's captive bred, female Kestrel 'Kaia'.  The idea is that being with an adult Kestrel will teach them all they need to know, so that they don't 'imprint' and become reliant on humans for food.  Thankfully, they are doing extremely well and as soon as they are capable of fending properly for themselves they will be hacked back to their natural environment.
 
Quick Tawny Update

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, three Tawny chicks were rescued, complete with nest, and brought to the Centre.  They have subsequently been joined by another Tawny chick who has happily become part of the brood.  They are all doing tremendously well; looking adorably fluffy and plumply well fed, just as they should.  Of course we'll keep you posted as to their progress and hopefully their eventual release.  

Spreading the Word

Last Sunday, Andy attended an exhibition day at Bentwater's Cold War Museum.  Armed with plenty of Suffolk Owl Sanctuary information and adoption leaflets, he spent the day promoting the vital roles that the Sanctuary plays in Raptor Rehabilitation, Conservation and Education.  His ambassadors for the day were Josh the Harris Hawk, two Lanner chicks and - yes you guessed - our top man (or rather raptor) Auckland the Boobook Owl.  Andy said it was a fantastic day with over 3,000 visitors; a brilliant opportunity to spread the raptor word. 

Fascinating Raptor Facts

One of our native raptors that is currently doing well in the UK, is the Merlin - our smallest indigenous falcon.   There have been concerns about their numbers in past years, but there are now over one thousand three hundred pairs, although they can be an elusive raptor to see.  The male Merlin is about the size of a starling, however they can be a very bold little bird, often catching larger prey than themselves.  They are what's known as an 'Upland Britain' bird, being predominantly found in moorland areas.  Our resident Merlin at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, May hatched here in 2003.  He has recently come out of his aviary to take part in some of our spectacular flying demonstrations.  When flying, Merlins are remarkably agile and May loves to delight onlookers with his swift maneuvres, and frequent rapid changes of  direction.  

Merlins have played a significant role in falconry history going way back to Tudor times, when they were considered to be the 'Ladies' hawk.  Even when Mary Queen of Scotts was imprisoned, she was still allowed out to fly her Merlins, which she did over the hills of  Northumberland, accompanied by Sir Ralph Saddler.