Stand by for take-off!

Here at the Sanctuary we give flying demonstrations during the summer months to help illustrate the diversity of bird types and importance of raptor conservation to our visitors and on the many school visits we undertake. Our 'flying team' comprises owls, eagles falcons, hawks and vultures which have been captive bred and hand-reared for the purpose so that they are comfortable and un-stressed when they fly in front of the public - in fact, they seem to relish the chance to show off their aerial skills!

As members of our team come into prime flying condition after their winter lay-offs, our friend Brian McFarlane took some wonderful pictures which show the variety of their beautiful plumage. You'll notice that some birds in the photos have straps of soft leather around their ankles, called jesses - when a bird is kept in the weatherings (an open-fronted shelter) during the day, the straps are used to tether them comfortably on their perches when not flying. Some also have bells attached to their jesses which alert the falconer who handles the birds during demonstrations as to the birds' whereabouts if they have landed, or are flying, out of sight.