|WHAT IS THE NATIONAL BIRDS OF PREY CENTRE?
are one of the oldest, probably the largest and certainly the best known and respected
specialist collection of birds of prey in the world. Housing approximately 300 birds of
over 80 species, the Centre leads the world in the number of species bred in captivity. To
date 60 species have been bred here, with new species laying eggs each year.
The National Birds of Prey Centre achieves its conservation of birds of prey
through Education, Captive Breeding, Research and Rehabilitation.
Our methods for achieving this are on many levels. We aim to educate every visitor that
comes through the gates. As many are only here for a day out, we try to make any education
interesting, informative and fun. It is best achieved through our daily flying
demonstrations, where between them, the birds and staff teach more than any written
information can achieve. The guide book which is just about to be revised, has been
written to use in projects and to last as a useful document far longer than just your
We also run a number of different specialised courses these are designed to cover
education on a number of different levels. A one day Falconry Experience course, a full
five day Falconry Course, a three day Owl Course, a two day police Wildlife Liaison
Officers course are run regularly throughout the year. A part time Raptor Biology course
with world renown teachers runs when we have enough people interested and paying a
The bird staff do outreach lectures and programmes on raptors and many other curriculum
related topics to schools and other groups. All booked parties that visit the Centre
receive a guided tour covering the conservation of birds of prey, or other subject matters
if specially requested. Many work experience students come to the Centre, from schools,
colleges, veterinary colleges and foreign establishments, learning and experiencing the
care and understanding required for such a large and specialist collection.
The Centre has always endeavoured to encourage the birds here to breed. This is a
natural behaviour for the birds and fulfils their purpose in life. It is also a huge
resource for gaining knowledge and understanding of raptors which is unavailable to the
scientist monitoring nesting behaviour in the wild. The Centre is just starting a breeding
and release scheme for Red Kites (Milvus milvus). The expertise gained in many species
over the years, has been used to assist and advise on other breeding and release
programmes in many other parts of the world.
Most of the birds that fly at the daily demonstrations are home bred birds and many
have worked here over several generations, which again gives unique insight into the birds
physical and mental being.
The Centre makes the collection available for research, so that the birds can be used
in such a way as to assist in welfare and conservation of the species. There are however
some very strict rules, and any research undertaken must not be harmful to the individual
birds. A number of projects have been undertaken such as food aversion trials, looking at
immune systems, DNA studies, and proteins in raptor eggs, to name but a few.
The Centre takes in between 50 - 100 injured, sick or confiscated wild birds each year.
This number will vary, often depending on the weather conditions. Birds come in from all
over the country and are treated by the Centre's vet and the centre staff, before being
released back to the wild if possible. We work hand in hand with many vets, the RSPCA
Wildlife Units, The South Carolina Center for Birds of Prey and HM Customs, all of whom we
are proud to be associated.
The Centre has many other different aspects to its work load, often not necessarily to
do with birds of prey. We are asked to clear factories of small birds, drive starlings out
of the city of Bath - this sort of task, incidentally, we do not undertake as we don't
consider it is a feasible option. We have written a paper on the use of raptors to clear
pest species which is available on our Website. We answer hundreds of queries on many
topics on a daily basis, including trying to sort how to discourage American Vultures from
roosting on buildings, (we put this one on to The South Carolina Center for Birds of
Prey!), what to do about an owl being mobbed in someone's garden. How to stop crows from
removing the putty in windows and many other bird related issues. We act as consultants,
advise NGO's and government bodies. We use our birds for filming wildlife programs,
documentaries, feature films and in advertising. We are always busy and rarely bored. If
you do want help and are going to write to us, please send a SAE as it helps funds and
please do not use the fax machine unless a dire emergency, as it uses our resources and
the director hates faxes and rarely answers them.