Back in May we were really pleased to find that a pair of our Red Kites, Elfin & Bronwyn, had hatched three chicks. This was great news, because the new arrivals will enable us to further illustrate the strong conservational success of a strikingly handsome and instantly recognisable raptor species that has always been the focus of interest in our public displays and school visits.
As a result of the persecution of Red Kites dating back to mediaeval times when their scavenging habits incurred the displeasure of the populace, through to their breeding being severely hampered by avaricious Victorian egg-collectors and gamekeepers who saw them as a threat to their livestock, the species was pretty much obliterated. By the early 1900s, Red Kites were thought to be extinct throughout the UK.
However, in the late 1980s a colony of 20 Red Kites - thought to be the progeny of just one breeding female - were discovered in Wales. With the plan to re-introduce these beautiful birds back to the UK hampered by the in-bred nature of the discovered group, the R.S.P.B. introduced wild kites from Europe to ease the boodline bottleneck and by the 1990s, Red Kites were seen circling the skies along the motorway corridors of Oxfordshire, the Chilterns and East Yorkshire - areas where where the birds had been re-introduced.
Nowadays Red Kites can be seen more widely as they have gradually spread further afield. The current population is estimated at around 2000 breeding pairs and pays significant tribute to what has been one of the most successful conservation efforts in the U.K.
Like many birds of prey, the growth of the three young birds that were hatched at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary earlier this year has been rapid, from development as chick to a fully fledged adolescent bird capable of flight. One of the three has been transferred to another bird of prey centre which has education high on its agenda, whilst it’s planned that the two remaining - named Hakin & Elgin - will finish their training and soon take part our flying displays. Notwithstanding, they are perfect examples of why this unique species and its preservation is so important to our bird population, and with such a fascinating history, living proof for our visitors that conservation works!