Short Stay for a Long Eared Owl!

The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary Raptor Hospital is always busy in the Spring - casualty numbers being augmented by foundling babies which have fallen from nests or been separated from parent birds. These are generally Barn Owls, Tawny Owls and, less frequently, Little Owls.

Recently, however, a Long Eared Owl made a rare appearance in the hospital treatment room, having been brought in from Felixstowe by a member of the public. The incidence of Long Eared Owl patients in the hospital is probably less than one each year, so it was highly unusual ( but interesting) for the falconry team to be assessing such a patient.

The owl had been found caught in netting within a warehouse at Felixstowe docks. Luckily, it was within the reach of some of the dockyard workers, who were able to collect it up into a box and transport it to the owl sanctuary’s hospital.

On arrival the mature adult owl was assessed and found to have no injuries, although it was, understandably, suffering from shock due to its ordeal. The remedy for the stressful rescue and journey to S.O.S. was merely a few days' peace and quiet in a secluded rehabilitation aviary with regular food and protection from predators.

After a week in accommodation akin to a luxury hotel (!) the owl was back in condition and ready to return from whence it came, in the protective custody of its kindhearted rescuer.

Long Eared Owls are strictly nocturnal and very well camouflaged within their favoured wooded habitat, so are rarely seen within daylight hours. They also compete for hunting grounds with Tawny Owls, so are rarely seen in areas in which Tawnies are plentiful and this could explain why coastal areas such as Felixstowe may offer favourable habitat. 

 

  The Long Eared Owl is assessed on arrival and appears alert and active!

The Long Eared Owl is assessed on arrival and appears alert and active!

  Crop tubing introduces essential nutrition quickly and effectively.

Crop tubing introduces essential nutrition quickly and effectively.

  I’ll have a luxury aviary for one, please!

I’ll have a luxury aviary for one, please!

Creche Developments

Throughout the owl sanctuary breeding season the falconers’ hut at S.O.S. bears more resemblance to a raptor creche than the centre of falconry operations!  This is because alongside our wild bird rescue activities, many of the captive bred birds we keep at the Sanctuary used for the flying demonstrations we give to fulfil our educational brief are hatching eggs left, right & centre!

Those of the young offspring which our falconers select to use for these demonstrations in future are hand reared so that they become accustomed to - and comfortable with - interaction with humans.  The others are reared separately and often exchanged with other centres similar to our own to inject fresh bloodlines into the system.

For training to progress satisfactorily, baby birds chosen to form part of the flying team must recognise the falconers as their food source from the time that they hatch from the egg. All the activities that can be witnessed at the sanctuary which involve the owls and other birds of prey working with the falconers are established through this demand for and supply of food.

The young birds are weighed every morning to ensure that they are keen enough to look to the falconer to be fed whilst retaining optimum condition. The foundations for this relationship, needs to be established as a priority, as soon as possible. 

 

Therefore, after eggs hatch in the incubators, they are moved to a brooder in which the temperature can be precisely controlled and the tiny chicks closely monitored. At this time falconers assume the role of Mum by feeding the pulli often and regularly, with tweezers resembling the parent bird’s beak.

Owls and other birds of prey grow extremely quickly due to their high protein diet and within weeks, the young are out of the brooders and strutting confidently around the “creche”.

Those birds that move on to new homes at other conservation projects or falconry centres will leave at about 8 - 10 weeks, whilst those that are to remain at the sanctuary can co-habit with the falconers for several more weeks, right up to the advent of serious training, when a permanent home is found for them in the aviaries.

It is not only the sanctuary’s own hand reared babies which share the falconers’ accommodation - any baby birds arriving at the sanctuary from other conservation centres to contribute to the educational remit of the centre will also spend their first few weeks getting to know their contemporaries and the staff who care for them within the protective environment of the staff quarters.

This year baby raven, Charles has joined the sanctuary’s avian community along with new Mackinders Owl, Nakura. Both have settled effortlessly into their new home and staff hope that on maturity they may form permanent pair bonds with established residents Rey and Kalifi respectively. 
 

Fed-by-tweezers.jpg
 A pair of African Spotted Eagle Owl chicks are hand fed and then enjoy a dozy nap...

A pair of African Spotted Eagle Owl chicks are hand fed and then enjoy a dozy nap...

Life-is-exhausting-for-bayby-Raven-Charles.jpg
 Baby raven Charles enjoys a nap after a feed, too...

Baby raven Charles enjoys a nap after a feed, too...

 Nakura, our baby Mackinders Owl gets bigger by the day!

Nakura, our baby Mackinders Owl gets bigger by the day!

Very Imp-pressive

When birds of prey damage tail feathers, it can take over a year for them to moult the broken feather out, to allow new growth to take place.

In order that birds can get back to efficient free flying more quickly, it is often necessary to “imp” or implant new feathers into the tail or wing affected.

Falconers gather feathers for this purpose throughout the moulting season, so that they have a “feather bank” with which to work when necessary.

The feathers are kept carefully, clearly labelled and in the correct order, so that they remain undamaged until needed.

The attachment of the implanted feathers is a skilled job only undertaken by the most experienced falconers, as the object of the exercise is to replace the damaged feather as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to avoid stressing the avian recipient for any longer than is necessary.

Each feather plays a part in helping birds to glide, dive, weave and turn, so a  proper imp job requires careful trimming, measuring and alignment so that the replacement feather matches the original in length and orientation as closely as possible.

        The correct feather is selected from the 'feather bank', cleaned, and the imping needle inserted

      The correct feather is selected from the 'feather bank', cleaned, and the imping needle inserted

Basically, the process involves joining the broken feather to its replacement new feather by inserting an “imping needle” (a thin shaft of metal, bamboo, fibreglass or other material) into the shaft of the broken feather.

The implanted feathers are held securely in place with a special quick drying glue - once this is dry, there is no outward evidence of this “enhancement” as the feathers all blend seamlessly together.  Here Falconer Matt is replacing one of the all important tail feathers of one of our Red Kites, Nessa.

       Nessa sits patiently as the replacement feather is carefully inserted and checked for alignment

     Nessa sits patiently as the replacement feather is carefully inserted and checked for alignment

Imping is not painful for birds - like human hair or fingernails, feathers are essentially dead matter made of keratin, without sensation.

Once the procedure is completed, the bird will be rested for a day or two to ensure that the implanted feathers are remaining securely in place.

      Resting Nessa from flight for a day or two will ensure all is secure

    Resting Nessa from flight for a day or two will ensure all is secure

Imping is an ancient technique, originating hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.

The earliest written reference to the practice is thought to be an account from the 1240s by the Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick II of Hohenstaufen, in his revered work, The Art of Falconry.

In the Latin workFrederick explains the necessity for Imponere,  to"place upon” or “to fix” feathers and refers to essentially the same process that we use today, though the tools of the trade have evolved. 

In ancient times imping involved dipping an iron needle in brine to create rust as a bonding agent, rather than a blob of glue!

Even Shakespeare was aware of the process - in Richard III, the Earl of Northumberland beseeches his fellow noblemen to “imp out our drooping country’s broken wing” by rebelling against the king.

What's What in Accident & Emergency

Over the past 18 months, the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary has undertaken it’s biggest fundraising drive to date.

The aspiration is to build a new, larger raptor hospital better equipped to deal with the increasing numbers and larger sizes of some of the avian casualties brought into the centre.

Most birds enter the hospital via two routes; either our team go out to rescue birds caught in difficult situations like being trapped in a chimney, or they are brought into the hospital by members of the public, often referred to us by local veterinary practices.

  This unfortunate Tawny was rescued from a slurry pit but we were able to clean him up and after a few weeks of recuperation, set him on his way

This unfortunate Tawny was rescued from a slurry pit but we were able to clean him up and after a few weeks of recuperation, set him on his way

On arrival at the centre our team are able to assess the severity of the injury or trauma and administer the first aid necessary and frequently-used medication to give the bird some respite before entering rehab.

  One of our hospital patients, a buzzard with a severe case of frounce, is crop-tubed - a method of getting liquid food into the stomach when the condition makes it difficult for the bird to ingest food by itself

One of our hospital patients, a buzzard with a severe case of frounce, is crop-tubed - a method of getting liquid food into the stomach when the condition makes it difficult for the bird to ingest food by itself

In more serious cases, such as a broken wing or where a bird may have been shot or poisoned, we take the bird to our veterinary who has the expertise necessary to treat the birds’ injuries in surgery or diagnose more specialist medication as may be required. After treatment, the injured bird is returned us as the vet does not have the time and facilities needed for several weeks’ recuperation and rehabilitation.

  Our current hospital facility has stood us in good stead, but the increase in both the number and physical size of the birds we are called upon to care for has determined the need for larger premises.

Our current hospital facility has stood us in good stead, but the increase in both the number and physical size of the birds we are called upon to care for has determined the need for larger premises.

The fabric of the present hospital facilities was originally very generously donated by Pets At Home in Bury St. Edmunds and equipped with donations from other benefactors. Although hundreds of birds have fortuitously passed through the hospital to be re-released back into their native habitat, still more successful outcomes could be realised with improved and enlarged facilities.

  For more serious cases, Paul Canham from the local veterinary practice is called upon to carefully examine birds to determine the likely cause of a problem and then operate as appropriate. Our General Manager Maz lends a hand...

For more serious cases, Paul Canham from the local veterinary practice is called upon to carefully examine birds to determine the likely cause of a problem and then operate as appropriate. Our General Manager Maz lends a hand...

The sanctuary’s hospital is in most demand from  May-July when capacity is quickly reached with the springtime influx of baby owls which have fallen from their nests. In most cases, these tiny creatures only need plenty of food, warmth and TLC to equip them for life back in the wild and as baby owls grow EXTREMELY quickly, they outgrow their cosy brooders within a few weeks. Plans for the new hospital include a larger incubator room and increased numbers of brooders and nursery accommodation.

“Baby season” aside, the normal admissions of adult birds into the hospital due to road traffic accidents, chimney falls, hypothermia and starvation still continue through every season. A bigger treatment room and and larger rehabilitation aviaries are also planned, therefore.

  This Marsh Harrier is typical of the larger species of wild birds of prey we are now privileged to treat, nurture and   re-habilitate

This Marsh Harrier is typical of the larger species of wild birds of prey we are now privileged to treat, nurture and re-habilitate

Over the last few months a total of 33 birds have been admitted to the existing raptor hospital with 20 being released back into the wild - a success rate of around 60%. Most casualties were Barn Owls with 11 being admitted. Sadly, due to many of these birds being brought in to us with injuries that had established infections, only 4 could be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

Of 10 Tawny Owls admitted, however, 9 were successfully treated and re-released, with only one road traffic accident proving fatal. 2 Sparrowhawks were brought to the sanctuary suffering from lack of food and after several weeks of recuperation were both released back to their native habitat. 1 Little Owl,  1 Long Eared Owl (a rarity in our hospital) and 1 Buzzard were also successfully returned to the wild after treatment, as were 2 underweight Kestrels.

Once quite an unusual sight in our treatment rooms, Buzzard populations are now on the increase in this locality and it is with these birds and the native Red Kite, which is also becoming more prolific, in mind that space will be augmented within the new hospital block.

With foundations for the new facilities now prepared and construction of the new hospital set to commence, we look forward to many more successful outcomes for our A & E patients.

Meanwhile, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to funding this huge but much-needed project over the past months - we hope that you will take the opportunity to visit the sanctuary and witness at first hand the essential work carried out in your name in our hospital. THANK YOU.

Thornam Owl & S.O.S. Wild Owl Nest Box Project Results for 2017

Every year, the national Barn Owl Trust publishes a report on the “State of the UK Barn Owl Population”. This report aims to quantify Barn Owl populations throughout the country, as observed by numerous local volunteer groups.

Our East Anglian Nest Box Scheme is one such group. Established in 2002 and for the last 5 years run jointly as the Thornham Owl and Suffolk Owl Sanctuary Project, it currently maintains and monitors over 300 wild owl nest boxes locally.

  A Barn Owl nest box sited high in a tree, out of harms way

A Barn Owl nest box sited high in a tree, out of harms way

Within the context of the UK, the scheme works in tandem with the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project. As a body, this is one of the larger local monitoring groups, checking 1,402 sites during 2017. The amalgamated Suffolk groups reported an encouraging increase, with 366 of the 1,402 sites being nested -  41 more nests than in the “bumper" year of 2014 and 51% more than the average of all previous years.

Thornham Owl & S.O.S. Barn Owl Project Successes

  Main man Roger, principal of our partners, the Thornham Owl Project, retrieves a pulli for weighing, measuring and ringing

Main man Roger, principal of our partners, the Thornham Owl Project, retrieves a pulli for weighing, measuring and ringing

2017 proved to be an exceptionally good one for the Thornham Owl and Suffolk Owl Sanctuary Project, recording 152 Barn Owl pulli (young birds ringed in the nest) in the year and surpassing our previous high of 2014. 

  In safe hands... working under a DEFRA-issued Disturbance Licence, the data collected by our project will be fed back to the Barn Owl Trust as a contribution to the annual survey.  Approaching a wild owl nest box without such a licence is unlawful.

In safe hands... working under a DEFRA-issued Disturbance Licence, the data collected by our project will be fed back to the Barn Owl Trust as a contribution to the annual survey.  Approaching a wild owl nest box without such a licence is unlawful.

Nest box checking commenced in the first week in June and it was soon clearly evident by the amount of debris left in some boxes that in some cases pulli had already fledged.  Our project leader Roger observed that in hindsight this was probably due to the very warm spell in late March,  to which some Barn Owls possibly took advantage and commenced early breeding. Obversely, others started late breeding when the weather conditions took a turn for the worse in May, and as a result, our team were still ringing Barn Owl pulli in late September and well into October.

 

Not Only... But Also - Kestrel & Tawny Owl Results

  This brood of seven young pullis evidence the encouraging results in the 2017 Kestrel camp

This brood of seven young pullis evidence the encouraging results in the 2017 Kestrel camp

Another success story in 2017 found just under half of the 46 Kestrel nest boxes in our project being used, with a record 88 pulli being ringed - a pleasing 4.4 being the average brood size and surpassing the figure for 2012.  This was an excellent result as the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) now have the Kestrel as Amber Listed, being of conservation concern.

  As Roger prepares to weigh the youngsters, a passer-by shows interest

As Roger prepares to weigh the youngsters, a passer-by shows interest

Tawny Owl Concerns
2017 saw a reasonable year for Tawnies, with 10 boxes yielding 19 pulli.  Though second only in results to our record year in 2014, there is an urgent need to expand our knowledge of this species.

 A trio of Tawny owlets nestle amidst the detritus that accumulates inside a busy nest box, which the team will clean when the opportunity arises later in the in the year.

A trio of Tawny owlets nestle amidst the detritus that accumulates inside a busy nest box, which the team will clean when the opportunity arises later in the in the year.

We need to be in the best possible position to provide advice on issues that may impact Tawny Owls, whether they are in planning policy, alterations to agri-environment schemes, the management of our woodland estates or climate change.  The BTO is organising a survey to establish the demise of this specie, aiming to bring more people into contact the Tawny Owls to improve our knowledge of how their population is faring and working with local groups to support monitoring work.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Thornham Owl Project volunteers Roger and Kevin who, supported by Suffolk Owl Sanctuary volunteer Steve and funded by the contributions made by S.O.S. supporters, tirelessly build and venture out to erect, monitor and repair or replace the wild owl nest boxes in our joint venture, for which Roger collates and then submits the detailed information that the Barn Owl Trust study depends upon.

Where there's a will...

Recent heavy snowfall and blizzards brought the county of Suffolk to a standstill as it was visited by the Beast from the East just a week or so ago.

The Sanctuary site was no exception with drifting snow causing a hazardous, though beautiful, landscape. Due to concerns for the safety of visitors during such treacherous conditions, the site was reluctantly closed to the public for several days.

   The usual suspects!  Falconers Nick, Liz and Harry braving the elements with our trio of Red Kites, Jester, Nessa and Bryn

The usual suspects!  Falconers Nick, Liz and Harry braving the elements with our trio of Red Kites, Jester, Nessa and Bryn

The falconry team struggled through the frozen wastes to continue their dedicated care and attentive monitoring of all the sanctuary’s resident birds and to remain on call for hospital casualties.

   The long arm of the falconer, brushing the snow from one of the high ledges in the Red Kite aviary

The long arm of the falconer, brushing the snow from one of the high ledges in the Red Kite aviary

Although all birds of prey are well equipped to deal with sharp drops in temperature and adverse conditions, staff still observed their charges diligently to spot any vulnerability swiftly and to prevent the health of any bird being compromised by the unusual situation.

In order to make sure that all birds had extra resources to draw on, feed quantities were increased and the temperature of the mews room in which the non aviary birds are accommodated overnight was raised.

   Our Steppe Eagle, Mir, was totally in her element as she exercised on the frozen  flying ground.   

Our Steppe Eagle, Mir, was totally in her element as she exercised on the frozen  flying ground.  

Falconers increased the frequency of their usual observation rounds and daily checks were carried out on all outside accommodation to ensure that roosting spaces all remained dry and draught free.

Owls and other birds of prey possess extremely thick and plentiful plumage in order to deal with sudden periods of inclement weather and under the watchful eyes of the falconry team, all Suffolk Owl Sanctuary residents took the snowy conditions in their stride - it was evident that some positively enjoyed the experience!

   Our friend Mishka the Snowy Owl also felt totally at home in the white stuff - her cousins in the wild are able to withstand temperatures as low as -40º C, though it didn't drop quite as low in normally Sunny Suffolk!

Our friend Mishka the Snowy Owl also felt totally at home in the white stuff - her cousins in the wild are able to withstand temperatures as low as -40º C, though it didn't drop quite as low in normally Sunny Suffolk!

We look forward now with optimism to the more favourable Spring weather which will, hopefully, encourage a successful breeding season.

Red Squirrel Report and Meerkat Musings

Keeper Nick Wallbridge reports!

  Visitor David Openshaw caught this great image of one of our Red Squirrel youngsters, which he entered into our 2017 Photo Competition

Visitor David Openshaw caught this great image of one of our Red Squirrel youngsters, which he entered into our 2017 Photo Competition

2017 proved to be a very successful one for our colony of Red Squirrels as both of our breeding pairs had litters, with a total of eleven kits being born.

Red squirrels are very fragile animals with the odds stacked against them in terms of breeding - even in captivity - but we were able to watch them grow from the tiny nervous babies that first appeared in the middle of the year into confident, acrobatic adults. 

One of the pens during 2017 had company in the form of three Reeves pheasants. They helped keep the pen clean and also provided some company for the squirrels. On more than one occasion the baby squirrels were seen sneaking down to drink the pheasants water, and prising the lid off the pheasant’s food dispenser to steal the grain inside.

The majority of the youngsters have now moved on to new homes, either to be added to controlled Red Squirrel release programmes where attempts are being made to re-establish colonies in the wild, as new blood for other breeding programmes or to help others illustrate the plight of these rare, amazing and delightful animals to their own visitors. Needless to say, we look forward to more new arrivals this year.

  Smile please!  This great photo of our inquisitive mob was taken by visitor Bob Berrisford

Smile please!  This great photo of our inquisitive mob was taken by visitor Bob Berrisford

As for our Meerkats, 2017 proved a hard one for our mob as sadly both the dominant male and female, Bandit & Bonnie, passed away due to illness.

This left the mob not only without their parents but also without a leader!  However, after some squabbling about who would take over and some diligent monitoring of behaviour by all the staff who care from them, the meerkats are now back to their usual ways and ready to face another year of being in the spotlight as a popular attraction for all who visit the centre.

Looking back on 2017, the highlight of the meerkats year was Halloween - our Mob love pumpkins, and they had a ready supply of carved pumpkins prepared by our volunteers, both to play with and to eat.

  Fun for all come Halloween!

Fun for all come Halloween!

After a long summer of entertaining the public, the meerkats have been resting up over the winter, spending most of their time inside basking in front of their heater or snoozing under the heat lamp. They have had some new toys to keep them amused, plenty of their favourite bugs and on a couple of occasions even came out to investigate the snow. Needless to say, as desert animals they were not particularly impressed with the white stuff!

They and we are looking forward to the year ahead as The Mob prepare to bring pleasure to all that come to see them.

Kestrel Cast Down - but not out!

Throughout the year, amongst those we sadly receive into our bird of prey hospital are beautiful Kestrels.

This little girl was one of them and we suspect like so many, her injury caused by being hit by a car. The Kestrel was brought into us by a lovely family who had seen the bird injured at the side of the road: after turning their car around and collecting her, they drove to the Centre where we received her in a soaking wet, very skinny condition and barely clinging to life.

Feeling it unwise to leave her overnight for fear that she would not survive, one of our team the Kestrel home and fed her through the night. Visiting the vet the next morning, it was discovered the bird also had an injured leg, the remedy being to put it in a cast for support during the recovery period..

Whilst gradually bring her condition back to normal, for the first 10 days of her treatment we gave her physiotherapy on her left foot twice a day, which involved gently opening and closing her talons. The picture on the left shows her standing with her closed foot but by the end of the treatment (right) she was able to keep her foot fully open.

 After physio, the kestrel was able to fully extend the talons of her left foot.

After physio, the kestrel was able to fully extend the talons of her left foot.

From there, the kestrel went from strength to strength. Shortly after the cast was removed, she spent a week in one of our secluded rehabilitation aviaries and after a final check over by the vet, she was released back to the wild nearby to where she was found. It took quite a time to get her back to health - but it was worth every second!

 Ready for the off!  Our friend was snapped in her carry-box just before she was taken off for release

Ready for the off!  Our friend was snapped in her carry-box just before she was taken off for release

East Anglian Wild Owl Nest Box Project - Report for 2017

Having joined forces with the Thornham Owl Project to form the East Anglian Nest Box Project, supporters of the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary has been instrumental in funding the development of a network of roosting sites for the local population of Barn Owls and other wild birds of prey.

  A trio of young Barn Owls raised in one of our project boxes

A trio of young Barn Owls raised in one of our project boxes

A Great Year for Barn Owls
Project leader, Roger Buxton reports that 2017 has been a record year, with 152 Barn Owl pulli ringed. This surpasses the previous high of 2014 when 147 were ringed - a successful outcome which brings the grand total of Barn Owl youngsters ringed over the last ten years to 715.

   Roger and his colleague Kevin began checking through the 290-odd boxes scheme in June

Roger and his colleague Kevin began checking through the 290-odd boxes scheme in June

In 2017, nest box checking began as usual in the first week of June and it quickly became evident, by the amount of debris found in some Barn Owl boxes, that young had already been fledged. This was due to a very warm spell of weather in late March of last year, which it is thought encouraged some early breeding.

When weather conditions took a turn for the worse, breeding was delayed again. As a consequence young were still being ringed in late September and well into early October.

        The downy plumage of a young pulli

     The downy plumage of a young pulli

Barn Owl brood sizes were as follows: 10 broods consisted of 1 chick, 13 consisted of 2 chicks, 17 boxes contained 4 chicks and 3 contained 5 youngsters, giving an average brood size of 2.81 - a very productive year, though falling just short of the exceptional average brood size of 2014.

Barn Owl boxes also proved to be a target for a variety of “squatters”! These included stock doves (50), hornets (2), jackdaws (34) and a solitary squirrel.

 

Kestrel Success

2017 was also another success story for kestrel nestboxes with 20 of the 46 boxes being used and a record 88 youngsters being ringed. Brood size also attained a new record of 4.4, an increase on the previous high in 2012 of 4.0

   A promising number of young Kestrels were ringed during the 2017 campaign

A promising number of young Kestrels were ringed during the 2017 campaign

This is a particularly satisfying result for the project since the British Trust for Ornithology have raised the conservation status of the kestrel to “amber”.

The Amber classification denotes “….species which have an unfavourable status in Europe, whose population or range has declined moderately in recent years, or those whose population has declined historically but made a  substantial recent recovery.”

Kestrel boxes also showed evidence of other unusual occupants such as squirrels and jackdaws.

Tawny Troubles

Roger and his colleagues reported a reasonable year for the project’s Tawny Owl boxes; 8 of the 47 boxes had been used and two nest sites within the boxes produced 19 pulli.

These figures seem to reflect the worrying national trend for the gradual but consistent decline of this bird over the last few years, which saw it’s conservation status elevated from green to amber in November 2017.

As Roger explains, “There is an urgent need to expand our knowledge of this species so that we are in the best possible position to provide advice on issues that may impact them; whether they are changes in planning policy, alterations to agri-environment schemes, the management of our woodland estates or climate change.”

The BTO is currently undertaking a survey to investigate the demise of this bird more closely and are launching a programme designed to bring more people into contact with Tawny Owls, improve their knowledge of the bird’s condition and support monitoring work undertaken by local groups.

Hopefully, this proactive initiative will kick-start long-term projects and ultimately increase the breeding success of Tawny Owls.

The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary and its supporters are indebted to Roger and his colleague, Kevin who have continue to devote many, many hours to the nest box scheme; the building, erecting and maintaining boxes and weighing, measuring and ringing of pulli to support and encourage positive outcomes for our local owl populations.

You can help! Please Sponsor a Nest Box ...

 This valuable initiative builds, sites, cleans and repairs a network of boxes which provide safe & secure out of roosting for Barn Owls and other birds of prey which are out of harm's way.

This valuable initiative builds, sites, cleans and repairs a network of boxes which provide safe & secure out of roosting for Barn Owls and other birds of prey which are out of harm's way.

If you would like to sponsor an owl nest box, in your own name or on behalf of a relative or friend, please call our admin. team on 0345 680 7897. Sponsors will receive a certificate of thanks,  supporters’ enamel lapel badge, S.O.S. newsletter and wooden fob bearing the identification number of their sponsored box.

Thank you!

The North Wind Doth Blow!

Despite concerted efforts to convince ourselves that Spring is just around the corner, Suffolk was hit by a cold snap and a covering of snow this week.

Luckily, our birds are all well insulated with plumage and housed in warm dry accommodation, so they are not adversely affected by plummeting temperatures. Many of our display team originate from parts of the globe that suffer harsh weather conditions and are well suited to dealing with wind chill factors such as those experienced recently. Others are migratory birds which move to warmer climes when cold weather hits.

Either way, snow is still a fairly rare occurrence at the sanctuary and one that must be celebrated by both man and beast! The falconry team flew several birds free this week, enabling them able to experience this strange phenomenon called snow.

  Rocky weighs up the strange white world and icy pond!

Rocky weighs up the strange white world and icy pond!

Rocky the Turkey Vulture, a species more used to enjoying scorching American temperatures, seemed perfectly at home in the crisp winter atmosphere and continues to progress well in his training to become part of the seasonal flying team.

Mir, the Steppe Eagle is a migratory bird hailing from the cold steppe region of central Asia and southern Russia, ranging easterly from Romania to Mongolia. Steppe regions and their human, mammalian and avian inhabitants are subject to incredible extremes of temperature, ranging from 45 deg. C (113 deg. F) in summer to -55 deg. C (-67 deg. F) in the winter months.

  Mir the Steppe Eagle feels at home as the temperature drops!

Mir the Steppe Eagle feels at home as the temperature drops!

These areas also experience huge contrasts in the day and night-time temperatures - in the highlands of Mongolia daytime temperatures of 30 deg. C (86 deg. F) can plummet to sub-zero figures at night. Mir, then, is easily able to take a delicate sprinkling of Suffolk snow in her stride and appeared to thoroughly enjoy the nippier conditions!

Lincoln the Bald Eagle - now reaching his maturity - has rarely seen snow in his five years of life, but his genus is well equipped for a colder climate. The Bald Eagle’s natural range includes the northern American states and Canada - when numbers were somewhat depleted during the 1950s, the species was restricted to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

  Juvenile Bald Eagle, Lincoln, comes in for a snowy landing.

Juvenile Bald Eagle, Lincoln, comes in for a snowy landing.

Like the Steppe, the Bald Eagle migrates to warmer climes in winter, namely Florida, Louisiana, the Sonoran Desert and northern Mexico. Having been somewhat spoilt in the relatively tropical Suffolk climate to date, Lincoln was unphased by the wintry conditions and behaved impeccably - giving shivering visitors to the sanctuary a heartwarming impromptu performance!

Despite the birds’ apparent pleasure at cold weather flying, the humans of the sanctuary hope that it won’t be too long before they are putting the birds through their paces in more sultry conditions!!

Many thanks to Jess for the photos, one of our multi-talented falconers, who is also a dab hand with the camera, and to Cathrine, our lady of letters who penned today's blog!

Where Eagle Dare!

Visitors to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary are always mesmerised by our trio of magnificent eagles; Mir the Steppe Eagle, Lincoln the Bald Eagle and Pungu the Bateleur Eagle.

Sitting out on perches on the Eagle Lawn, people can observe the birds at close quarters and fully appreciate their elegance and power - one only has to consider the size of an eagle’s talons to fully comprehend what ultra efficient hunting machines they really are!

  Regal Eagle - Mir illustrates the intense glare of the hooded eye

Regal Eagle - Mir illustrates the intense glare of the hooded eye

Mir the Steppe Eagle is the great matriarch of the sanctuary, having resided here since the inception of the centre over 20 years ago. Although one would assume that she is now considered to be quite an elderly bird, this is not the case - in the protected environment of the sanctuary, enjoying a plentiful food supply and with no fear of predators, she is likely to live into her late 40s or early 50s, so is actually in her prime! 

Lincoln the Bald Eagle, on the other hand, is just reaching maturity, having only arrived at the sanctuary in 2012. Young Bald Eagles are comparatively unattractive birds, having drab brown plumage and no distinguishing features. Over the last five years, however, Lincoln has metamorphosed into a supremely elegant bird displaying striking mature plumage and the iconic white head and yellow beak, eyes, and feet of his species.

  Lincoln, our maturing Bald Eagle, communicates with visitors!

Lincoln, our maturing Bald Eagle, communicates with visitors!

The name Bald Eagle comes from the greek Haliaeetus Ieucocephalus meaning sea (hali) eagle (aietos) white (lLeuco) head (cephalos) in recognition of this most recognisable feature.

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The charismatic Pungu takes part in a Half Day with Eagles with falconer Matt

  Young visitor Luke Cummings to this photo of Pungu's colourful face markings for our 2017 Photo Competition

Young visitor Luke Cummings to this photo of Pungu's colourful face markings for our 2017 Photo Competition

Pungu, the Bateleur Eagle has been entertaining visitors as part of the flying team for over ten years. Like Lincoln, she arrived at the sanctuary as a somewhat insignificant brown youngster, but over four or five years blossomed into the eye-catching black and scarlet individual who turns so many heads today.

Bateleurs are unique within the eagle world due to their ability to walk and jump backward, enabled by their unusually short tail. This feature is an absolute necessity for an African bird which enjoys a diet inclusive of snakes; the bird must be able to retreat nimbly from the strike of these reptiles when hunting.

The enduring popularity of our eagles has recently prompted us to offer a new falconry course for 2018 - The Eagle Experience. This unique, sanctuary based course will present the opportunity for visitors to spend exclusive time with our magnificent eagles and a designated falconer, gaining a real insight into the nature and behaviour of these powerful raptors and experiencing them in awe-inspiring flight at close quarters. Click here for further details.

For details of this or any of our wide range of falconry activities, please ‘phone our admin. team on 0345 680 7897.

The Whole Kit & Kaboodle

The S.O.S. red squirrel colony enjoys luxurious accommodation within the centre’s pretty Woodland Walk.

Three tall, spacious aviaries connected with unique treetop walkways provide the extensive habitat and aerial cover that these solitary animals enjoy: there are plenty of communal areas where family members can congregate but also lots of secluded nooks and crannies in which individuals can enjoy some peace and quiet.

  Visitor Christopher Whybroage sent us this image of one of our confident kits taking a closer look at visitors

Visitor Christopher Whybroage sent us this image of one of our confident kits taking a closer look at visitors

One measure of the squirrels’ wellbeing, both physical and psychological, is their breeding success. During 2017, there were seven kittens born within the sanctuary’s colony (from two breeding pairs) - an achievement of which we're proud.

There are many reasons for the fragility of red squirrel populations. Firstly, the genus is inherently susceptible to the squirrel pox virus, unlike the more robust grey squirrel with which it must necessarily compete.

Secondly, red squirrels feed less efficiently in the broadland woodlands of their favoured habitat than grey squirrels - the latter can survive at densities of 8 per. hectare, whilst red squirrels are only successful at a density of 1 per. hectare (and as low as 0.1 per. hectare in coniferous woodland).

Red squirrels also suffer at the hands of a number of predators such as birds of prey and pine martens with the breeding patterns of the latter correlating directly with fluctuations in red squirrel numbers.

The modern world also encroaches on red squirrel populations - in some urban areas, domestic cats pose a new threat and throughout all rural areas of the U.K. evidence of the devastation caused to both red and grey squirrel populations by traffic is plain to see on the roads.

There are estimated to be only 140,000 red squirrels in Britain presently, compared to 2.5 million greys, so the necessity of captive breeding programmes has never been more apparent.

  One of the mature Red Squirrels at S.O.S. enjoys a snack

One of the mature Red Squirrels at S.O.S. enjoys a snack

Successful progeny from the S.O.S. squirrel colony are usually transferred to other national breeding centres, to introduce new blood lines and improve the gene pool, most notably the Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Trust. The geographical advantages of this small island are particularly conducive to successful breeding with the Solent providing a barrier to the infiltration of grey squirrels.

As it is illegal to introduce a grey squirrel into red squirrel territory with a penalty of two year’s imprisonment or a £5,000 fine, the island offers an insulated, protective environment.

Captive breeding centres are also now established in many parts of the U.K including Surrey, Cornwall, Kent, Brownsea Island, Yorkshire, Jersey and Tresco. The seven most recent Suffolk Owl Sanctuary progeny have just settled into their new home in Hereford, where we hope they will enjoy many years successfully breeding their own young.

 

 

We're nicked!

Visits to S.O.S. are sometimes made by the most unexpected people!!

Just such an instance occurred recently when ten police officers of Suffolk Constabulary joined us for an instructional morning. The officers are all connected to the force's rural beats and were interested in expanding their knowledge of owls and other birds of prey.

 Titch the Tawny Owl and Pippin the Barn Owl display impeccable behaviour whilst sitting on the long arm of the law!

Titch the Tawny Owl and Pippin the Barn Owl display impeccable behaviour whilst sitting on the long arm of the law!

During the course of their usual duties throughout the Suffolk countryside, the police are often involved in situations concerning wild animals and birds. Although agencies such as the R.S.P.C.A., the R.S.P.B., the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary exist to meet the specific needs of local wildlife, the police often find themselves playing a supportive role in such incidents, so Suffolk Constabulary felt it important to equip their officers with knowledge in this area.

The day began with an introduction to some of the sanctuary’s native bird population - these being the species that the police would come into contact with out in the field.

  Officers looking confident in their new bird handling skills

Officers looking confident in their new bird handling skills

Instruction concentrated on bird recognition - in order that police could relay accurate information to other agencies called in to assist them - and bird handling in order for officers to gain a degree of protection and confidence when dealing with beaks and talons at close quarters!

It is hoped that the skills acquired during time spent at the sanctuary will prove useful to our visitors in their line of duty and that their time spent with the falconers has raised awareness of some of the issues facing our beautiful but vulnerable native bird population.

The police visit evolved from a perceived rise in wildlife crimes in general and incidents involving birds of prey specifically. In particular, numbers of wild bird shooting cases have escalated in the last couple of years. The “protected"conservation status of many of the birds involved, then demands criminal investigation.

  Identity Parade! General Manager Maz and Falconer Liz hope that their road tax and M.O.T.s are up to date!

Identity Parade! General Manager Maz and Falconer Liz hope that their road tax and M.O.T.s are up to date!

As a response to this worrying development, Suffolk Constabulary took time to re-assess their efficiency in this context. It was decided that some time and resources spent on the area of wildlife crime would be justified in order to embed a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing Suffolk wildlife and, consequently, elicit a more robust response in such instances.

The police day at the sanctuary was not a case of “all work and no play” however and all the officers thoroughly enjoyed their time in close community with our birds as well as taking in a much appreciated flying display. 

Kestrel Casualties

The raptor hospital at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary is the only such facility serving the Suffolk area. As such, it is a hive of activity throughout the year, but particularly during the late Spring/early Summer months when progeny are maturing and taking their first tentative steps into the airborne world!

At the time of writing the hospital ward is almost at capacity, with five young Kestrels adding to the influx of patients at this time of year

Unusually, four of the kestrels are siblings and were brought into the hospital together. During clearance work in a local garden, a number of trees were felled and unfortunately, one of the trees contained a nest site in which one diligent kestrel couple had been rearing their four chicks.

After such a major dissembling of the kestrel’s habitat, there was no likelihood of the parent birds returning to their brood, so the concerned house owner immediately stepped in. The four youngsters were wrapped up and placed in a lidded box, to offer dark quietude during their journey to the sanctuary, in the hope that the stress and shock of their ordeal would not prove too much for the tiny birds.

On arrival, the falconry staff ascertained that the kestrels were just over two weeks old and, apart from suffering understandable shock at the loss of their nest, were otherwise in good condition. Had the tree clearance happened a week or so earlier, the outcome for the young birds would have been severe, as young kestrel chicks need constant brooding for the first 10 - 14 days of life.

Our hospital admissions had just passed this crucial landmark and now had the ability to regulate their own temperature. Their father had also been conscientious in his provision of food for mum and babies, as their body condition was good, so thanks to the parent birds’ hard work, the quadruplets had a great start in life and the best possible chance of survival. We were happy to step into the breach left by the adult kestrels and continue to feed, monitor and protect their progeny.

  The Kestrel quadruplets will soon be transferred from  the hospital ward to a secure hack site.

The Kestrel quadruplets will soon be transferred from
the hospital ward to a secure hack site.

Little Miracles!

Our raptor hospital is a busy place at this time of year - young owls and other birds of prey are finding their wings and, like all novices, some will find it harder to master new skills than others! Those that need a little extra help often turn up at the hospital, having fallen from a nest site or suffered a mishap through lack of confidence!

At the moment, six hospital places are being occupied by half-a-dozen Little Owls who came a cropper whilst testing their wings for the first time! The babies all arrived at the hospital as individual cases, but have soon made each others' acquaintance and when the time comes will be hacked out as a group.

 Now We Are Six! (even though you can only see five of us). The six fledgling Little Owls all bonded very quickly.

Now We Are Six! (even though you can only see five of us). The six fledgling Little Owls all bonded very quickly.

Like some other owl species, Little Owl numbers are in rapid decline in the U.K. Results from the British Trust for Ornithology’s bird surveys indicate that numbers have fallen by 64% since the late 1960s and that current breeding pairs number 5,700.

One factor working against this vulnerable bird is it’s lack of formal conservation status in the U.K. It is excluded from the Birds of Conservation Concern list due to the non-native status of the Little Owl, the species having been introduced to Britain in the late 1800s. If it was eligible for inclusion, however, the Little Owl would be red listed, having declined in population by more than 50% over the last 25 years.

After many failed attempts to establish this owl in Britain, the first successful breeding was recorded in Kent in 1879 and by 1909 Little Owls were successfully established in habitat as far north as Derbyshire. Today, the largest populations are to be found in the South East of England and Suffolk seems to be a particular hot spot for this pretty little bird. This may in part be due to the fact that Suffolk is a rural area, with plenty of oak and ash (favoured by Little Owls) and a retention of old orchards - fruit trees are also a hit!

Notoriously difficult to spot, it is likely that there are many more Little Owls in your local area than you realise! Not only are they almost exclusively active at dawn and dusk, rather than during the day; they are also extremely well camouflaged at times when they are “visible”.

The six youngsters currently being cared for in our hospital are all “branchers”. This term is used to describe young owls which have fallen when they have “branched out” from their nest, as their flight feathers are developing, and they make their first attempts at flight. Such casualties are usually found members of the public walking their dogs - obviously this is a morning and evening activity, when the owls are at their most active.

Unlike Barn Owls, which will not feed young which have fallen from the nest, Tawny and Little Owls will continue to feed and care for their young branchers, so although such vulnerable looking chicks may appear to have been abandoned, their parents will probably know exactly where they are!

The best advice, therefore, on finding a baby Little Owl in such circumstances is to leave it alone, unless it is in imminent danger or is obviously injured. In the latter cases, then removal to a place of safety and care is necessary. To do this, pick the baby up gently in a towel or jumper, place it in a covered box and keep it in a quiet, dark place until you can transport it to your nearest rescue facility. You can find more details on our website here but please, WASH YOUR HANDS after handling a wild bird.

You will find a list of contacts for rescue centres on our website here. If you are located in Suffolk, please telephone the sanctuary for advice or hospital admissions on 0345 680 7897 (option 4).

These six branchers currently being cared for in our raptor hospital are now feeding independently and are of good body condition. This means that within the next couple of weeks, they will be transported to a secure, secluded hack site where they can enjoy regular supplies of food and protection until they choose to strike out on their own.

S.O.S. Celebrates Suffolk Day

On 21st. June the county of Suffolk celebrated the first ever Suffolk Day - an idea championed by Mark Murphy of Radio Suffolk and supported by the East Anglian Daily Times. Suffolk Day is a new initiative encouraging people throughout the county to fly the Suffolk flag and celebrate everything that’s great about the county.

We were glad to join in by offering reduced-price admissions on the day as the St. Edmunds flag was proudly flown outside the centre and Suffolk bunting adorned reception.

  Falconer Jess and Cobweb the Barn Owl celebrated Suffolk Day on June 21st

Falconer Jess and Cobweb the Barn Owl celebrated Suffolk Day on June 21st

In a shrinking world, where people are able to communicate, trade and interact with others on a global scale, Suffolk Day offered an ideal opportunity to reflect on the beauty and diversity that exists right on our doorstep and to appreciate our wonderful locality.

Suffolk offers big skies and pretty landscapes, breathtaking coastline, delicious food, innovative businesses, quaint market towns, exciting nightlife and, above all, friendly natives! Over the last few months Mark has been raising awareness of Suffolk Day with local businesses, councils, visitor attractions and residents and the birds and staff at the owl sanctuary have been vociferous in their support!

We look forward to next year's event!

Red Kite Arrival

Every year we oversee the hatching of several progeny from a variety of the centre’s captive bred birds, those which are housed in our display aviaries and our simmer flying demonstrations.

If these youngsters are not retained by the sanctuary, they are exchanged with other breeding centres throughout the country in order to contribute to the national conservation programmes and help to retain healthy gene pools.

This year, they were thrilled to have successfully hand reared a Red Kite chick. Two eggs were taken from the nest of our established Red Kite group and, not unusually, one was not viable. The remaining chick, however, came on in leaps and bounds and in a matter of weeks a handsome bird is starting to emerge from the original fluffy blob!

  This year’s new arrival is growing rapidly!

This year’s new arrival is growing rapidly!

Red Kites are slowly repopulating most areas of the British Isles again, having suffered a somewhat chequered history in the past. Although protected in medieval times due to their value as street cleaners and carrion eaters, these stunning birds were heavily persecuted in Tudor times - as Tudor streets became cobbled and relatively clean, kites had to look further afield for food and came to be perceived as unwanted competitors for game.

At this time they also acquired a reputation for stealing clothes left out to dry, to decorate their nests. In Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, launderesses are advised that “when the kite builds, look to your lesser linen”!

In 1560, red kites were added to a list of animals and birds classed as “vermin” and a bounty was posted on red kite carcasses. Numbers plummeted. Their unpopularity continued right through to the 19th. century, when they were considered a threat to pheasant stocks and new born lambs - in fact kites are not voracious killers, preferring to clean up dead meat and carrion.

  Red Kites can now be spotted flying over the skies of the Home Counties but visitors to the sanctuary can enjoy the awe inspiring sight of our own Red Kites Nessa, Bryn and Jester flying free and close-at-hand simultaneously from a purpose built hatch in their aviary

Red Kites can now be spotted flying over the skies of the Home Counties but visitors to the sanctuary can enjoy the awe inspiring sight of our own Red Kites Nessa, Bryn and Jester flying free and close-at-hand simultaneously from a purpose built hatch in their aviary

It is only since the turn of the 20th. century that kite numbers have started to recover in the wild thanks to a number of re-introduction programmes throughout the British Isles. These began with the setting up of a Kite Committee in Wales in 1904, which paid a dividend to farmers protecting Red Kites nesting on their land. Slowly, the Welsh population started to recover, due in part to the remoteness of some of the inhabited landscape and by 1992 there were 79 nesting pairs. In the next eight years this figure rose to 250.

Once the Red Kite was well established again in Wales, it’s numbers slowly began to recover throughout the British Isles. Although unusual, it is now not a rare sight to see red kites soaring over the Chilterns and above the M40 and M4 beyond High Wycombe and Marlow , and even in the Suffolk skies, easily recognisable with their elegant motion and iconic forked tail.

You need hands...

From Easter until the last weekend in September, life at S.O.S. becomes hectic for falconers and their charges! Three flying demonstrations are the focus of our visitors' attention, but the shows have to be fitted in between the always busy schedule of cleaning aviaries, feeding birds and maintaining their fitness levels, engaging with school parties and most importantly receiving, assessing, treating and rehabilitating injured wild owls and other birds of prey in the raptor hospital.

As a charity, we manage this packed daily schedule on a precarious budget, substantially dependent on public donations. Consequently, we are indebted to our small army of volunteer helpers who work tirelessly (in all weathers!) to assist with all aspects of the falconers’ workload, rewarded only with the opportunity to get close to, handle and fly some of the sanctuary’s resident birds.

  Volunteer Tom gets down to the nitty gritty -  papering night boxes in the mews room

Volunteer Tom gets down to the nitty gritty - 
papering night boxes in the mews room

Some volunteers work with us for many years, having found a niche in which they feel fulfilled; happy to help, in close proximity to the birds that they feel so passionate about. Other individuals wish to just dip into the work of the sanctuary for a few months to experience something out of the ordinary and gain skills that would otherwise have remained outwith their ken.

Volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life; students, nurses, policemen, service personnel, entrepreneurs, carers and their charges, full time grannies and those enjoying retirement. A wide variety of nationalities have also enriched the sanctuary’s cultural diversity over the years and we have received assistance from individuals from Spain, Italy, Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands.

At the end of a hard day’s work Tom winds down helping to exercise Cobweb the Barn
Owl and Taino the Ashy Faced Owl.

 

In this context, volunteers not only contribute practical help, experience and wisdom to the day to day running of the sanctuary, they also offer another perspective on life in general and our role in the wider context of local community and international conservation issues.

It is not only in the summer season that volunteers are so valuable to the management of the centre’s workload. During the winter months, when there are no demonstrations and the flying team rest and moult, the chores continue as the standard of care of the centre’s 80+ resident birds must still be upheld.

That the sanctuary could not run efficiently without the dedication of volunteers is an understatement.Through all seasons and in all weathers, our volunteers are crucial to the successful running of the sanctuary and the happy and healthy lives of the birds. From sweeping paths, to weighing birds, to clearing undergrowth - even to serving hot chocolate and mince pies during our annual Christmas event - all volunteers are priceless and we thank them all most sincerely for their help.

Anyone interested in offering their services in this capacity would be most welcome - especially if they have time to spare at weekends! The only criteria are that interested applicants be consistent in their attendance, willing to turn their hand to all tasks and have a sense of humour and love of a frequent hot beverage! Further details can be obtained from volunteer co-ordinator, Liz Boyd via the the admin. office on 0345 680 7897, by email to liz@owlbarn.co.uk or from the sanctuary’s reception desk.

We look forward to meeting you!

And now, a Word for our Sponsors

As you can imagine, running a charity purely on the basis of donations these days is no longer the simplest of tasks, but it has to be said that the unflinching generosity of corporate sponsors together with private donators and well-wishers makes things a lot easier than they could be in the current climate of unrelenting financial pressure.

The financial support of individuals is both much appreciated and thankfully admired, but as our collective grandmothers no doubt told us over and over, "Look after the pennies and the £'s will look after themselves". So, the Trustees of S.O.S. would also like to pay tribute to their loyal staff and trusty volunteers for foregoing many of life's luxuries - warmth, leaky office accommodation and a nearby toilet spring to mind - as they go about their daily duties without complaint and cognisant of our financial straits. Thanks, guys!! - without you, none of our endeavours in the sphere of the care and conservation of wild owls and other birds of prey would be possible. If there were medals given for frugality, you'd be the first in line.

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But it's not always cash & hard graft that make our place tick: we have also benefitted from the materials and manpower provided on a free-of-charge basis by many local firms who have played a valuable part in keep us going. Over the years Andrews Sykes, B&Q, Barclays Bank, Bardon Concrete, Clarkes of Walsham, The Co-OP, Eastern Concrete, Freecycle, Jewson and Lafarge have all stepped into the breach with supplies and muscle-power to help with maintenance and general upkeep.

So now it's with pleasure that we add another - albeit slightly different - corporate sponsor to the roster - Birketts LLP. This highly successful local law firm have stepped in with the generous sponsorship of one of our latest arrivals, the Great Horned Owl hatched here just a few weeks ago, to help celebrate the firms 150 years in business. With offices in Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge & Chelmsford, Birketts - who provide a full range of legal & financial services to businesses, institutions and individuals - will also be promoting the Sanctuary across the region through its many lines of communication to their customers and the public at large, helping us raise awareness about wildlife care & conservation interests of the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary. May we say thank you, and welcome!