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When Birds of Prey Escape

When I was twelve years old I my parents took me to a medieval banquet at a castle. I very much enjoyed the food and the atmosphere and was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to meet a large buzzard. The bird entered the banqueting hall on the arm of its handler and caused quite a stir. I was given a leather gauntlet to wear and the bird was placed on my arm. It was huge and I was fascinated by it!

Bird of Prey Displays

Since that day I have always been keen to watch displays involving birds of prey. I have to say that the best display that I have ever witnessed was at Longleat. This was organised by the Hawk Conservancy and featured a dramatic climax with many birds in flight simultaneously.

My Copper Bird Bath

When watching the various displays I have often wondered if any of the birds ever fly off and what happens if they do. It would be quite a shock for locals to open their curtains in the morning to see a giant buzzard perched on a tree in their garden. I keep looking at my swanky and hoping that any stray hawks will make a bee line for it when then need a drink. None have ever arrived which, on reflection, is a good thing as they are a threat to small garden birds and even pets.

The displays that I have attended have always been conducted with amazing skill and efficiency. Every bird has always returned to its handler at the end of the show. However, I now know that things don’t always go according to plan. A bird of prey display certainly went awry at the Royal Bath and West show this month.

The Bath and West Show

As I hail from the West Country myself I have fond memories of childhood visits to the Royal Bath and West Show. I don’t recall any flying displays though. Just a lot of pigs and chickens and fairground type attractions.

This year, Birds of Prey Displays were at the show in Shepton Mallet but unfortunately one of their star performers, Arthur the Vulture, flew off during a display. Arthur has a 6ft wingspan and so would be hard to miss if he happened to land in your garden. There have been many sightings of Arthur across a fifty mile radius but he has yet to be captured. Arthur is not dangerous but people are being advised not to approach him in case they spook him as he might then fly further afield. I don’t know what I would think if I went into my garden and Arthur was sitting on my copper bird bath!

Eagle Heights

Arthur isn’t the first bird of prey to disappear this year. Rex, a Steller’s sea eagle, escaped from a display in Dartford in February. The eagle was part of display organised by Eagle Heights Wildlife Park and boasted a 9ft wingspan. It was feared that he would seek a meal in the shape of someone’s pet as he is capable of snatching a cat or even an adult dog. This is a bird that I would not want to see in my garden as he would represent a threat to my cat. Thankfully he was soon captured and returned to Eagle heights.

Birds of Prey can be trained but they remain wild birds who can decide to fly off any moment. Many of these creature are enormous and a potential hazard to pets and small garden birds. It really isn’t a good thing to find one on your bird bath.


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