The Hawk Conservancy Trust is an important centre for receiving injured birds of prey and has one of the only specialist bird of prey hospitals in the UK.
Each year we receive and treat, on an accident and emergency basis, approximately 200 wild raptors. Many of these are brought in by members of the public, farmers, police, RSPCA, or other wildlife rescue organisations, due to illness or injury. The birds are treated by our expert avian vet John Chitty (BVetMed, CertZooMed, CBiol, MSB, MRCVS) and by our dedicated hospital staff. All birds are treated with the intention of releasing them back into the wild where practicable. However, some of the injuries sustained by these birds are too severe for any realistic chance of recovery or release back into the wild. In these extreme cases the birds are humanely euthanised.
Some of the raptors brought into the hospital need long term care in order to recover from their injuries or illnesses. These birds are placed in specially built ‘rehabilitation aviaries’, where they can gain fitness prior to release. The Hawk Conservancy Trust has developed techniques to care for these wild birds without institutionalising them to their surroundings or making them dependant on humans. The hospital facility offers an ideal environment in which to conduct research that improves the nursing care and husbandry of these vulnerable raptors.
The hospital also receives many young birds each spring. These chicks are brought in by people who believe that they have fallen from the nest and been abandoned. The ‘orphans’ are cared for until they have developed their adult plumage and can survive on their own. At this stage the juvenile birds can be released into the wild.
Raptor medicine and rehabilitation are complex subjects in which knowledge is always improving. In this context, the Trust operates a range of projects aimed at increasing our knowledge in order to continually improve the methods of care and rehabilitation we use.
There are different areas of work, both within the hospital and out in the field. Some are of these are listed below:
- Post-release survival of rehabilitated raptors
- Effects of human presence or absence on rehabilitating raptors
- Parasite burdens of raptors admitted to the hospital
- Analysis and distribution of raptor mortality factors
- Tawny Owl post-release monitoring
- A retrospective study of morbidity and mortality of raptors in southern England
The Hawk Conservancy Trust is most grateful to the sponsors, friends and supporters of the National Bird of Prey Hospital, without whose financial support the care of injured raptors would be compromised.
We are also extremely grateful to the volunteers who assist with the running of the hospital, help maintain the aviaries, perform ‘ambulance’ duties by collecting injured birds, and for assisting in their releases.
Did you know?Barn Owls have been associated with omens, witchcraft, and death. Throughout history they were used as symbols, in myths, and as part of superstitious potions.