We are the oldest dedicated birds of prey centre in the world, and have rarely deviated from our mission. We lead the world in the number of species bred in captivity and continue to add to these numbers as we can. We endeavour to teach each and every visitor, preferably without them realising they have been taught, and at the same time giving them a great and personal visit and a lifelong memory.
We teach on other levels; in the experience days, the courses, our external lectures, guided tours and external demonstrations.
We achieve research project with the birds and staff involving various universities, some of which is really exciting to be involved in.
The Centre covers many different aspects and subjects, often not to do with birds of prey. We have been asked to clear factories of small birds, drive starlings out of the city of Bath, ducks from rice fields in Australia, all sorts of weird and wonderful things. The bird scaring opportunities, we generally do not undertake as we are not really geared up for this work (unless someone wants to offer a fortune, and then we will gear up!).
We answer hundreds of queries on many topics on a daily basis, including trying to manage how to discourage American Black Vultures from roosting on buildings, 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 don’t always have the right answers, but we try our best. We act as consultants, advise NGO’s and government bodies. We use our birds for filming wildlife programmes, documentaries, feature films and in advertising. We are always busy and rarely bored.
The most important achievement is to learn that you never know it all. We know that we have to continue to learn – adapt as we go, understand the things that did not work and try a different way, and that applies to all aspects of what we do.
With our own captive birds, we strive to achieve making their lives as comfortable as feasible, giving them the chance to breed wherever possible. This may mean changing housing, or mates, or where they are kept or how they are fed, all of which can have an impact on successful breeding. We also try to make sure that rather than just breeding high numbers of birds, we not only breed for quality rather than quantity, but also to allow parent birds to complete the breeding cycle by rearing young. We learn from our experiences with captive breeding every year.
We try to set an example to others who are keeping captive birds or may do so in the future, in all aspects of what we do. That includes enclosure design, husbandry, hygiene, health and safety and in the ethical side of what we do.
We make sure that our demonstrations are educational, informative, interesting and fun, both for the people watching, the demonstrators and the birds themselves. If everyone is having a good time, it all works so much better. We aim to have our signage accurate, smart, informative, educational and up to date, which is hard and expensive to achieve.
We aim to make the surroundings as pleasant as possible for not only the visitor, but the birds inside their enclosures and the wildlife that surrounds us. We have more wild birds here at the Centre than any of the surrounding countryside, and that is only because of the environment we have made here.
We try to make sure that all the staff and volunteers are well trained, confident in their jobs, and enjoying what they do. And they are able to put over the educational message in a confident and mature way, giving enjoyment and interest to the audiences of all levels.
We give free advice wherever and whenever asked as long as we are not asked to write peoples projects or theses for them (have we been asked to do that – yup!). But our time is limited, and the internet is a wonderful resource. However there is arguably more accurate information in hard copy than on the web at this time (you can't beat a good reference book!).
We have always taken in injured wild birds and will continue to do so. It is important if people care enough to contact us and bring in birds that we will be there to help. Although there is much debate about the success of rehabilitated birds, no doubt some have gone back successfully and bred in the wild. And probably more importantly those people that find them and care will sometimes develop a lifelong interest in conservation.
We sit on Boards of various groups including the Hawk Board who liaises with the Government.
Neil Forbs from Great Western Exotic Vets
International Centre For Birds of Prey
Present the perfect course for raptor keepers, falconers, zoos keepers, demonstrators, educationalists in raptor understanding and owl keepers.
‘Management of birds of prey for health and longevity’
One Day Course
Presented by Neil A Forbes DipECZM(avian) FRCVS RCVS and European Specialist in Bird Medicine
Two dates available
Sunday February 5th 2017
Saturday April 1st 2017
0900h – 1630h
At: International Centre for Birds of Prey
Newent, Gloucestershire, GL18 1JJ
Cost £85 for one day
Includes lunch, refreshments + comprehensive A4 course notes
Please phone to book at: 01531 820286