Raptor World.

Our bird of prey experiences give you the opportunity for a real ‘hands on’ activity handling and flying the birds.

Harris Hawk

Native to the Americas, the Harris’s Hawk is now one of the most popular birds for falconry in the world. While all other birds of prey are primarily solitary hunters, the Harris’s Hawk hunt in packs, and are the only bird of prey to do so. Packs are normally family groups and can consist of up to 15 birds. When hunting, the pack works together using sophisticated strategies that increase the chance of a successful hunt. Harris’s Hawks differ from other hawk species, as their wing is slightly broader than “true” hawks, like the Goshawk.

Eagle Owl

The largest species of owl in the world, the Eurasian Eagle Owl is easily identified by its large size, prominent “tufts” on the top of its head and brightly coloured orange eyes. The distinctive “tufts” on the top of their head are used to communicate mood and to increase their camouflage, by breaking up their outline. The Eurasian Eagle Owl is crepuscular, meaning it primarily hunts at dawn and dusk. Focusing on rodents and small mammals, they will also catch other birds in the air and the largest prey they have been known to catch is small deer.

Eurasian kestrel

The Eurasian Kestrel is easily distinguished when in flight as it hovers with a rapid wingbeat and a fanned out tail. As hovering is the kestrels primary hunting technique, the wing shape is adapted slightly from the rest of the falcon family to allow rapid wingbeat, instead of high speed. Their extended range of colour vision (into the ultra-violet range) allows them to track their prey by their urine trails, which glow under ultra-violet, and can enable them to identify nest areas. Although it can be seen in a variety of environments the best place to spot them is at the sides of roads, motorways and airports.

American kestrel

A tiny member of the falcon family, the American Kestrel can pack a powerful punch. It preys on mostly insects, small rodents, and reptiles, but will on occasion take small birds such as blackbirds. Being so small, they are more susceptible to cold temperatures, so individuals from Canada and the most northern parts of the US will migrate south for the winter, often gathering in their hundreds to do so. They have suffered a 40% decline in the last 50 years and scientists are researching the reasons for this, while conservation efforts are increasing to help stop the decline.

Lanner Falcon

Lanner Falcons are one of the few species of birds of prey that have an increasing population in Africa where they are mostly found, but in Europe they are now an endangered species with less than 1700 individuals remaining. This is mostly due to loss of habitat, increasing agriculture and an increasing number of wind turbines. They are capable of reaching speeds up to 140mph, and use this high speed to catch and kill their prey, which consists of small and medium sized birds, but will take insects, rodents and carrion when food is scarce.

Saker Falcon

Saker Falcon is the second largest falcon in the world and also extremely powerful. They are a very hardy bird as they can thrive in both the desert heat and high up in the cold Altai Mountains. Saker’s are one of the few falcons that actively hunt ground mammals, and will easily take anything up to the size of a hare. They also fly much lower than other falcons, and tend to pursue prey horizontality, rather than diving down from above. Due to this flight style, they often fall victim to power lines and wind turbines.

Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon has the honour of being the fastest living thing on the planet, with the current official record speed of being 242mph. Like most falcons they are known for catching prey much larger than themselves, and have even been known to take down heron. After a significant population decline in the 1970’s, the peregrine falcon in the UK very slowly started to increase their numbers, unbeknown to conservationists. Although their numbers are still increasing, there are ongoing threats from persecution, illegal egg-collecting, and nest disturbance.

Tawny Owl

The most common species of owl in the UK, with an estimated 50,000 mature pairs. The Tawny Owl hunts on silent wings, and although it is a nocturnal species it will sometimes be seen during daylight hours.The variety of colours of the owls plumage help it to be perfectly camouflaged when sitting in a tree. The distinctive shape of the owls face, or ‘facial disk’, helps to gather and focus sound. This allows them to detect sounds imperceptible to the human ear, such as the heartbeat of a mouse.

Snowy Owl

The only owl to be found in the arctic circle, the Snowy Owl has very distinctive colours that allow it to be camouflaged in the Arctic Circle. Snowy Owls primarily perch and nest on the ground, and so will often have to face off to larger ground predators. For this reason snowy owls tend to be very aggressive, females in particular. Snowy owls are an opportunistic hunter, so their diet mostly consists of small rodents and the chicks of ground nesting birds (particularly Ptarmigan). They can catch much larger prey, up to hares and geese.

Northern Goshawk

Goshawk’s are known as shortwing’s, meaning they have short round wings which gives them powerful acceleration and a long tail to give them superior manoeuvrability. This allows them to out fly their prey within dense forest, their preferred habitat. A native species to the UK, numbers have been dropping in recent years, falling to around 430 pairs in the present day. This decline is due to a number of reasons including habitat loss, illegal persecution and use of pesticides. Wild Goshawks numbers have been raised primarily by help from the falconry community taking action.
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