Archive for December, 2012

Falconry displays and Owls – birds of prey displays update

Well the summer season is over and of course one reflects on the busy season just gone – maintaining and flying our birds of prey through the winter and continuing to take bookings.

We were lucky enough to be included in the channel 4 TV program ‘Aristocrats’ about Blenheim Palace. I was in the background flying ‘Slick’ our Peregrine hybrid which actually I always feel is our most exciting bird of prey.

Visitors love the falcons particularly the Peregrine. Its history, its noble nature but above all its speed! Every young person seems to know that the Peregrine is the fastest living thing on the planet and can stoop at 250 miles per hour – whether that is completely true or not does not matter!

‘Slick’ does not disappoint he is like a flying torpedo or perhaps we should just call him a missile! but despite this and the falconer in me it is ‘Bo’ the Eagle Owl who possibly claims more plaudits.

People just love owls and of course ‘Bo’ with her 24 years of experience is a ‘good one’ . Owls are difficult to train – they are easily distracted and can encounter mobbing birds which can further phase them. Of course as we all know they prefer the quieter ends of the day or night when their faculties are most attuned. So there are a lot of things to think about when flying an owl particularly away from home but like a fine wine they improve with age and ‘Bo’ is just about as good as it gets now.

But flying her can still be testing – I describe an owl as being a tamed rather than a trained bird. Unlike a falcon or hawk which are not necessarily very tame they are trained and respond accordingly. With an owl this is more difficult  so you have to be more careful and so it takes_Z6O9815-1019 longer to build up that confidence.

When things are going well with an owl it is just great – they are educational flying over children heads as if they were mice – flying to the gloved hands of guests and uniquely chasing the dummy rabbit to show the owl is a superbly evolved raptor.  But owls are easily lost and so one has to be careful and responsive to any new environment where you expect them to fly.

I leave you with a picture  of ‘Bo’ in flight by P N Drane.