Archive for January, 2011

Birds of Prey Displays 2011

Well the 2011 birds of prey and falconry display season is underway and we look forward to the warmer weather when it comes and of course meeting clients both old and new.

With  daily exercising of our birds of prey you do notice the changing of the seasons. I am beginning to see signs of wild birds pairing up for the breeding season ahead – as it happens Great Tits which are wonderful seem to be particulary active with their varied array of vocalisations and even with our own birds of prey we notice subtle changes in behaviour as this time of year.

We are often asked how our birds of prey deal with the cold -particularly as we have had record low temperatures this winter. The general rule is that birds of prey are very hardy and  take the cold weather in their stride but there are however some husbandry issues which one must address.

If birds of prey are in aviaries or loose lofted then they can remain there during bad weather – they can move about and find the most comfortable position to roost at height – above the frost line. The frost line is a slightly contentious issue but the advice still stands.

Birds of prey in flying condition which are  tethered – ie. not free lofted should during a period of cold weather particularly with sub zero daytime temperatures  should be given an opportunity to warm up by bringing them into the hawkroom at night. Artificial heating  is again contentious and I take the view that in a house additional warming is probably not required.

With the young bird of prey – first years birds and second year birds – they are vulnerable to a condition called wing tip oedema a complex condition which can result in the bird of prey becoming flightless or worse. They need special care either by being fed up and placed in an avairy for the winter or if being flown have a pig warming bulb nearby the tethering position to prevent the onset of WTO. This condition is not clearly understood and was reported by the old falconers and sometimes to fog the issue even further it can occur during the summer months. There is no doubt that some specise are more susceptible than others as well as particular individuals within those species.

I know this has been a complex answer to a simple question but it does reflect husbandry issues and we as bird of prey keepers try to be led by veterinary research and advice.

As I said in my introduction we are looking forward to meeting old friends and new during our falconry display season. It is 25 years since I started this bird of prey display enterprise and its amazing to see how the years have just ‘flown by’ to coin a phrase!