30 years with raptors

I can’t believe where the years have gone, it was 30 years ago that I took an injured Buzzard in for the first time, and am pleased to say that it was returned back into the wild, but truth be known, it was more luck than experience on that occasion.  Looking back to 1997 when we registered Corio Raptor Care as a charity, in those early days it was mainly by word of mouth when birds were admitted into the centre.  Little did we know how much things would change within those twenty years as more organisations began to use us for rescue work with birds of prey in general.  It still surprises me that all these years later we  still operate as a bird of prey rescue and rehabilitation centre, with organisations such as the RSPCA, RSPB, Police, vets and increasingly so, members of the public, were we frequently offer advice and assistance and general queries.  Our Corio Raptor Facebook page is very popular and is where we also receive request from all over the world for advice etc and have built up a following of many nationalities, both home and abroad. For those who prefer to use the World Wide Web, you can find us on raptor.org.uk. We are now one of the largest independent, non-profit making, self-funded rehabilitation centre in the northwest covering Lancashire, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Over the years we have developed our community outreach programme that enables us to take certain suitable birds that cannot be released to shows, gala’s, education establishments, clubs and so on, which is the only way we can  fund future work and the upkeep of the centre and also inform people on what to look for when chancing upon a chick, or what to do if they come across an injured bird.   It amazes me when a mother brings her child and talks to me about her memories of meeting the birds when she was very young; she remembers how she felt when she was close up and could see deeply into the eyes of Boo the Eurasian Eagle Owl.  That’s the impact animals can have on very young children and is why it is so important to talk about the wildlife and how they should be respected in the wild.

So many birds pass through the centre yearly with various problems which range from general injuries to chicks assumed as abandoned, to deliberate persecution and road traffic casualties.  These groups of bird are prime candidates for rehabilitation. Then we have none native captive bred birds bought as pets that are no longer wanted. People buying birds of prey is something I feel uncomfortable about  and my concerns are  due to the lack of experience and  knowledge in caring for a bird of prey that can directly lead to suffering and distress to the bird.  These non native species are unfortunately unable to be released due to legislation and have to remain in captivity for the rest of their lives, and we can be talking 10s of years for some of the larger birds.  Possibly the hardest and most complex group of birds to work with are very young chicks that have been hand reared by humans and are now totally relaxed and dependant on people, these birds are called socially imprinted and in some cases,  can  have permanent psychological and behavioural problems.

Over the years, we have progressed and improved our facilities with a new hospital containing heat intensive care units, chick rearing units and incubation facilities.   Secluded aviaries and outdoor flights are all designed and built to help promote a swift and successful outcome.

2017 was a milestone in the history of Corio Raptor Care celebrating 20 years as a registered charity, even after all these years it never ceases to amaze me the response we receive at the many shows and galas we attend every year.  Young and old all seem to be fascinated by birds of prey and seeing them so close up is a privilege.   Education has always been a major feature in our community outreach programme, we always try to present an unusual and interesting attraction, displaying each  bird on its own uniquely designed environmental display.  A member of the corio raptor team is in attendance at all time to talk to the visitors, explain the work we do and about the history of the show birds.   It is always very rewarding at the positive response we receive.

On Thursday 12th July 2018, was for me a personal high when we received our 1000th native species bird, a Hobby, and what a bird to receive.  In all the years we have only ever taken one other Hobby in, Hobby’s are a rare bird and a member of the falcon family; they are slightly larger than a female kestrel but smaller than a male peregrine.  Each year these little birds migrate from our shores all the way down to Africa and return the following year to breed.  This bird was eventually released at a suitable site with the kind help of Darren Shepherd on the 1st August.

This now brings us to the present day; more and more people are becoming involved in the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of wild birds of prey, why? Who knows, one thing is certain there is no doubt man has always felt compassion for sick and wounded creatures.  Our general awareness of the threats and damaged to our environment has become greater. With the subsequent pressure, this passes on to our wild creatures to survive. The correct type of intervention is essential; the long term welfare of each individual bird must be our prime consideration.

As for the future, who knows, but one thing is certain the care and rehabilitation of any wild creature is a sensitive and thought provoking subject.

Due to the nature of our work we are not open to the future