The Sanctuary’s flying displays - which fulfil our obligation to illustrate and educate the general public in regards of the various capabilities of varying birds of prey - have always been spectacular affairs. However, the talent level was cranked up a notch this year by a new addition to the 2015 team.
Zena is a captive bred nine year old Striated Cara-Cara who arrived at the sanctuary from a private breeder in Berkshire.
These birds are native to Chile, Tiera del Fuego and the Falkland Islands and, due to their role as scavengers, are an essential element in the ecosystems of these regions. Cara-Caras live off carrion - in their native environment this would include Rockhopper penguins and dead sheep. Their taste for the latter resulted in persecution of the bird for many years by Falklands farmers. Happily these issues have now been managed to enable birds and farmers to live amicably side by side.
The Cara-Cara has superb colour vision and is often motivated to steal red coloured objects such as clothing or handkerchiefs - probably because red is the colour of the flesh they are constantly searching for. Unlike owls, they are extremely intelligent birds and in the wild will search diligently for food sources by overturning rocks, digging in the ground and raiding dustbins in order to extract a tasty morsel.
The S.O.S. flying displays gave us the opportunity to showcase the hunting traits of Zena and her exploratory skills, which added an extra element of entertainment to the demonstrations we give to visitors!
The falconers attempt to simulate Zena’s natural environment by providing obstacles she has to navigate in order to source her food. She is adept at turning over plant pots, foraging in dustbins and exploring drainpipes in order to uncover her lunch - antics which have caused much amusement amongst her audience!
In sharing their intimate experience of this fascinating bird of prey, the falconers also hope that visitors will discover a new avian favourite and feel free to photograph her at work. It is also very important that during rest periods in her aviary, Zena is properly stimulated so she is supplied with a variety of toys and objects to enrich her environment, when she is enjoying “down time” after the flying displays.
Our staff are looking forward to some exciting developments in their work with Zena for many years to come - we will keep blog readers updated regularly!