Birds of Prey

The imperial bird of prey academy is home to many a bird, from owls to eagles and falcons to hawks as well as some unusual birds such as our red legged seriema, Dandy and laughing kookaburra called Petrie.

As well as meeting all the different birds of prey, we have regular flying and feeding demonstrations with the team.  Led by Faith and her team who have had many years of experience, these demonstrations are educational, amusing and unpredictable.  The displays are on regularly, for timings check out the daily timetable.

African Eagle Owls (Bubo africanus)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

Like other species of owl, the large size of the African Eagle Owls eyes are fixed into the skull. Though this gives them a much longer range of vision, is does mean their field of vision is restricted. Owls combat this with their elongated neck which allows them to rotate their head an impressive 270 degrees. Moffie demonstrates her lovely long neck in this photo taken by one of our volunteers Adel. What could she be looking at?

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

Vulnerable – IUCN Red List

Snowy owls are large owls with a wingspan of around 1.5 meters and can weigh up to 2 kilograms. Female are around 30% heavier than males.

Snowy owls are diurnal, unlike most owls that are nocturnal. The Arctic daylight forces a snowy owl to hunt during the day.

Barn Owls (Tyto alba)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

Come and see our beautiful Barn Owl, Mystic. With some species of bird it is easier to tell the difference between males and females than with others. One example is the barn owl, with females typically having black speckles on their chest compared to the pure white males. It is thought that bigger speckles are preferred by males, due to potentially advertising the genetic fitness of the female.

Bengal Eagle Owls (Bubo bengalensis)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

The Bengal Eagle Owl’s orange eyes indicate this bird actively hunts when levels of light are low. This photo of our beautiful Bhuna demonstrates exactly how these birds will hunt their prey in their semi-desert and woodland environment.

Boreal Owls (Aegolius funereus)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

The scientific name of the Boreal Owl, Aegolius funereus has several ominous connotations attached to it. Aegolius refers to a type of owl thought to be of ill omen, and funereus is Latin for funeral. Do you think our gorgeous Newton could bring such trouble?

Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

The burrowing owl is a small, long-legged owl found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. As weird as it seems, birds will typically stand on one leg when comfortable. With Chaos, our Burrowing Owl, having longs legs adapted for life on the ground, this action is exaggerated further!

Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus)

Endangered – IUCN Red List

Those of you familiar with Imperial will probably recognise our Common Kestrels, Bob and Grace. Unfortunately Grace had a less than ideal start to life, after finding her way to us she really came into her element. As an ambassador for Kestrels, Grace aids in educating the general public about British wildlife as well as making people aware of the hardships these incredible birds face.

Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

The Goshawk belongs to the genus Accipiter, alongside our other UK Accipiter, the Sparrowhawk. If you look closely they have bright red eyes and a distinctive white eyebrow. Its broad wings enable it to hunt at high speed, weaving in and out of trees, and its long legs and talons can catch its prey in flight.

Harris Hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

Did you know Harris Hawks will actively pursue prey on the ground as well as from above? Working in groups, several of the birds will run into thick cacti in order to flush out prey such as ground squirrels, with the rest of the birds waiting in the wing.

Hooded Vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus)

Critically Endangered – IUCN Red List

A vulture typically has a bald face in order to keep itself clean when sticking its head into a carcass. They will then sit in the sun to allow any ‘post dining mess’ to dry up, and will clean themselves accordingly. Isn’t our Hooded Vulture, Gonzo, a handsome looking bird?!

Long-Eared Owls (Asio otus)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

Is that an owl or a branch?! The plumage colour and the ‘ear tuffs’ that the Long-Eared Owl possesses ultimately enables them to blend in to their environment. This means they can avoid predators as well as sneak up on prey!

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

The Merlin is the UK’s smallest species of falcon. They are one of the few types of falcon that will pursue prey close to the ground, primarily predating upon small birds and insects.

Red-Legged Seriema (Cariama cristata)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

A shot of Dandy during our afternoon display on the Farm Park. Our displays give Dandy the perfect opportunity to show off his long legs. He is pretty fast too, the Red-Legged Serieme is able to reach speeds of 15-20mph!

Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

Sparrowhawks, Coined the ‘Garden Assassin’ these birds have short wings, giving them the capacity to quickly move through thick vegetation. Males will typically take small song and garden birds, whereas your females will tend to predate on larger birds such as doves, blackbirds and even pigeons.

Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis)

Near Threatend – IUCN Red List

The Striated Caracara’s usual habitat is the rugged cliffs and rocky ledges of the Falkland Islands. An expert flier, this bird can achieve speeds of up to 40mph. The intelligence of this breed makes them an especially inquisitive bird. In the wild they have been known to raid bins and even the campsites of scientists and explorers!

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

The tawny owl is roughly the size of a woodpigeon, with a rounded head and a ring of dark feathers around its face surrounding their dark eyes. With the Tawny Owl being our most common UK owl species, it’s ironic they are more likely to be heard rather than seen due to their nocturnal habits.

Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Least Concern – IUCN Red List

Maximus, our juvenile Tiercel (male falcon), proudly demonstrates one of his signature malar stripes. Many fast paced animals such as falcons, cheetah and gazelles have these around their eyes in order to reduce visual impairment from the sun. Being blinded by harsh light could be disastrous if you’re going over 200mph, speeds easily reached by the Peregrine Falcon!