Saturday 8th August 2020
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Our Birds
On this page, you will find our list of species of the Birds of Prey and a number of Corvids that we currently have at Shieldaig Lodge Falconry.

Please note: We have seasonal Summer and Winter flyers to ensure all of our Birds get a well deserved rest which usually ends up being around the time the Birds are due to moult; where they rest completely and eat a very rich and varied diet to aid with the moulting of old feathers and the growth of strong new feathers.

Owls are Birds of Prey which belong to the order known as Stragiformes, which includes approximately 240 species of Owl. It is widely believed that all Owls are nocturnal (active primarily at night), however this is a misconception. You can tell generally when an Owl is primarily active by the colour of their eyes; an Owl with dark eyes means they are Nocturnal, an Owl with orange eyes means that they are primarily active at dusk and dawn (known as Crepuscular), and those Owls with yellow eyes are Diurnal, meaning that they are primarily active during the daytime. The order Stragiformes is split into two families; we have the Tytonidae family which probably the most known Owl in the World belongs to - the Barn Owls, of which there are currently 18 known species of Barn Owl spread across the World. We also have the Strigidae family, to which the rest of the known amount of species of Owl belong, of which include another of the Worlds most wide-spread of Owls - the Tawny Owl. One special characteristic of Owls is their ability of silent flight. The smallest species of Owl in the World is the Elf Owl, standing at an average of 5in and weighing an average of 1.4oz, whereas the largest species of Owl, the European (or Eurasian) Eagle Owl stands between 22 to 30in and weighs between 3 to 11lb (range is that of between a male & female - the female being larger). You will find below the species of Owls that we currently have in our collection, along with information and photographs of each species.
Barn Owl
( Tyto alba )
The Barn Owl is one of the most widely ranging species of Owl, found on nearly every continent except the Artic and Antarctic. They are found in Britain and are a popular symbol of British wildlife, but unfortunately their numbers are as low as 4000 pairs across the UK due to loss of habitat and a lack of hedgerows in modern open field systems. There are also less open barns for the Barn Owl to roost and nest in, although this is something that is changing with more nest boxes being put up and more farmers once again opening their barns to the "farmer's friend". While the Barn Owl is a nocturnal hunter, it is frequently seen in the summer months in the early evenings gliding over the fields in daylight. As they fly over the field, they direct their disc-like face towards the ground which helps to amplify their hearing. The Barn Owl is the only Owl which has been proven to be able to hunt effectively in an area scientifically sealed off from all light, meaning they can only rely on their sharp ears. The Barn Owl's diet is made up almost exclusively of small rodents up to the size of rats.

Little Owl
( Athene noctua )
The Little Owl is the smallest British species of Owl, and is a relatively new addition to this country, as they were introduced from continental Europe during the 19th Century. They predate mainly on earthworms, beetles and small rodents such as mice and voles. They will also take small birds on the wing on occasion and have even been know to take bats at dusk. They are more commonly found in England, Wales and the Scottish Borders, and don't tend to venture further north. The Little Owl is vulnerable to predators from a young age, and the Owlets are active and able to run about from as young as two weeks old. Nests are usually made in hard to reach places such as small tree hollows. As the bird matures, it develops a white v-shaped marking on the back of its head that eventually will resemble the white markings of the face. This is designed to put predators off attacking the Little Owl as they will be fooled into thinking they are being watched and are unable to ambush the Owl. In Ancient Greek mythology, the Little Owl was the familiar of Athena, the goddess of Wisdom and they were permitted to reside in her temple in Athens. When the generals of Athens were going into battle, they would have cages of Little Owls to release over the battlefield, to boost the morale of the soldiers who would think the goddess' favour was with them

European Eagle Owl
( Bubo bubo )
The European Eagle Owl is the largest species of Owl in the world, and is found native to forested regions across continental Europe. This formidable predator can easily match the strength and hunting capability of an equivalent eagle, and has a varied diet, consisting mainly of small rodents, rabbit and hare. It is also capable of taking prey as large as a small fox or deer when necessary, using its huge, powerful feet and sharp talons. The tufts on top of the European Eagle Owl's head are often thought to be ears, but they are just feather. The ears are hidden underneath the feathers at the sides of the face. The tufts are useful for camouflage - when the Owl feels threatened it will stand tall, draw in all it's feathers to appear thinner, and stick the tufts up in the air. Sitting in a tree, it quickly becomes a piece of bark against the trunk or a branch. If the threat comes too close, the Owl makes a terrifying transformation, puffing out their feathers, putting the wings up behind their head and making a loud clicking sound with the beak.

Spotted Eagle Owl
( Bubo africanus )
The Spotted Eagle Owl, or otherwise known as the African-Spotted Eagle Owl, is a medium-sized Owl and is the smallest of the Eagle Owl classification, with its weight ranging from approximately 1lb to 1lb 9oz - in comparison to the largest of the Eagle Owls, the European Eagle Owl ( Bubo bubo ) of which can weigh from around 2lb 6oz up to 10lb! The male Spotted Eagle Owls are much paler and is around 0.2 pounds (~100g) lighter than the female. The Spotted Eagle Owl can be found in South Africa, and also S. Arabia. Sadly, human persecution is high, primarily due to superstitious beliefs. The Owls primary prey is invertebrates (arthropods & insects), but will also consume small mammals, birds, frogs & reptiles. The Spotted Eagle Owl habitat is open or semi-open woodlands, but will avoid dense rainforests, and is known to breed in large gardens within towns.

Hawks & Buzzards
Hawks and Buzzards belong to the order Accipitriformes and the family known as Accipitridae (of which Eagles, Harriers and Kites also belong). “True Hawks” (the genus Accipiters), which belong to the sub-family known as Accipitrinae, include Goshawks, Sparrowhawks, the Coopers Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawks and others. Buzzards belong to the genus Buteo from the sub-family known as Buteoninae, which include the Common Buzzard, Red-tailed Buzzard, Ferruginous Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard and others. In America, for example, Buzzards are also referred to as Hawks; eg. the Red-tailed Buzzard as we in the United Kingdom refer are known as Red-tailed Hawks in America. "True Hawks" are referred to as Shortwings and Buzzards are referred to as Broadwings. Shortwings are characterized by having short wings and long tails whereas Broadwings are characterized with having long, broad wings and long flight feathers. In case you are wondering why we have enclosed "True Hawks" within speechmarks is because this is the term often referring to the Accipiter genus of Hawks, whereas the species Harris' Hawk does not belong to; the Harris' Hawk belong to the genus Parabuteo (more information about the Harris' Hawk can be found below). You will find below the species of Hawk & Buzzard that we currently have in our collection, along with information and photographs of each species.
Harris' Hawk
( Parabuteo unicinctus )
The Harris' Hawk is found native to South America and the Southern States of America, with Texas and Arizona being well populated areas. They were discovered by the great ornithologist Audubon in the 1860's in Arizona and he named them after his good friend and companion on the trip Colonel Edward Harris. The Harris' Hawk is a fascinating bird both in captivity and in the wild as it is the only bird of prey to hunt co-operatively in a pack, with normal pack sizes consisting of three to six birds and packs as large as fifteen birds being sighted hunting. By hunting together they can both successfully flush and pursue quarry thus greatly increasing their chances of success and survival. A common hunting scene in Texas is for the larger female Hawk (capable of holding the large jack rabbit that is often chased) to wait up above in a tree with others in the pack, watching carefully as a smaller, more agile male runs around on his long legs in the brush trying to flush out prey. Should he succeed the pack are ready and waiting to give chase as soon as the quarry chooses to bolt. The Harris' Hawk is also unusual in how it rears it's young. The vast majority of raptors will drive their young from the nest shortly after fledging when they can hunt for themselves. However the Harris' Hawk young will stay with their parents for a year, learning how to hunt with their parents, and potentially will stay with the pack for longer. In captivity, because of their sociable and intelligent nature, the Harris' Hawk is an exciting and fascinating bird to fly. They are also incredibly versatile flyers, being able to soar and glide over open ground as well as weave quickly and with great agility through the forest.

Common Buzzard
( Buteo buteo )
The Common Buzzard is a species native to Britain and Europe. With over 60,000 pairs, the Common Buzzard is the most common British bird of prey. They are just as frequently seen circling near the motorways and roads looking for road kill as they are seen out on the hills. With small feet in proportion to their body, the Common Buzzard prefers to scavenge where possible, although they are perfectly capable of taking rabbit or pheasant as well. The Common Buzzard is a broadwing, with long, broad wings to allow them to soar on thermals and glide with very little energy waste. This means a Common Buzzard can cover a large territory searching for prey down below as soaring without wasting the energy needed for the chase.

Red-Tailed Buzzard
( Buteo jamaicensis )
The Red-Tailed Buzzard (also known as the Red-Tailed Hawk in the USA) is found native to North America and is widely distributed. These stunning birds are adaptable hunters according to the habitat, usually feeding on small mammals such as prairie dogs and rodents, but females are capable of catching jack rabbit, which is around the same size as a hare. In desert areas they will catch reptiles including snakes, by presenting the snake with their wings which the snake can strike at without hitting anything more than feathers, before quickly grabbing and crushing with a vice like grip. The Red-Tailed Buzzard will even adapt to built up areas by taking pigeons and other birds. As a broadwing, they are capable of using their large wings to soar on thermals and glide. By soaring on thermals the Red-Tailed Buzzard does not flap its wings and waste energy when covering large distances such as searching and protecting their territory, or migrating, as Red-Tailed Buzzards who live further north will come south for the winter. They are fearless birds when defending their nest or territory, and will display aggression to birds far larger than them including eagles that threaten the nest. In captivity the Red Tailed Buzzard is a popular hunting bird due to their determination and eagerness in the chase, as well as their capable size.

Ferruginous Buzzard
( Buteo regalis )

The Ferruginous Buzzard (also known as the Ferruginous Hawk in the USA for example), is found in North America and the very south of Canada. They are so named because of the Latin word ferrum, meaning "iron", or ferrgin meaning "iron-rust" - refferring to the colour "reddish brown" of its plumage. Recently, there has been discussion based upon the opinion of DNA studies that the Ferruginous Buzzard should be reclassified as an Eagle. Its main prey consists of small to medium-sized mammals such as mice, rats & rabbits, but it will also take other birds, reptiles such as lizards and snakes. When hunting, it is known to perch & wait, hover - were it uses quickened wing-beats, until it has the oppertunity to strike its prey, were it then stoops (dives) down onto its prey. Occasionaly you may also see a Ferruginous Buzzard hunt with cooperation with another Ferruginous (its mate). Ferruginous Buzzards live mainly in open areas, such as grasslands, shrublands & deserts or on the outer edges of forests. Breeding - on average, 4 eggs are laid and are incubated for approximately 30 days. Young wil be fully fledged between 40 and 50 days after hatching & will stay with their parents for approximately another 6 weeks.

Falcons belong to the order Falconiformes and the family Falconidae, which comprises of around 60 species of birds of prey (not just Falcons). There are 37 known species of Falcon in the genus Falco, of which are widely distributed across the World, except from Antartica. Falcons are referred to as Longwings because of their characteristic long pointed wings and narrow tails. Male Falcons are referred to as tiercel’s and females are referred to as purely falcons; the term tiercel is from the Latin word tertius, meaning third - as a male falcon (or any bird of prey) is approximately one third smaller than the female. Falcons typically kill their prey by utilizing a "tooth" on the side of their beak; this is known as a tomial tooth, unlike Hawks, Buzzards & Eagles who typically use their feet. It is widely known that Falcons are the fastest family of Bird of Prey; Peregrine Falcons have been recorded stooping (diving) at speeds of around 200mph, making the Peregrine the fastest-moving animal in the World. Most falcons hunt primarily 'on the wing', meaning that they hunt at speed in the sky, although the Kestrel primarily hunts its prey by hovering - waiting for the right moment to stoop (dive) down on its prey. You will find below the species of Falcon that we currently have in our collection, along with information and photographs of each species.
Lanner Falcon
( Falco biarmicus )
The Lanner Falcon is a close relative of the Peregrine Falcon, however it is smaller and not capable of reaching the extreme speeds of its cousin. The Lanner also has a distinctive red "cap" on the top of its head. They are found native to Africa, with a small number also found in southern Italy and Greece and Asia Minor. Like most Falcons, the Lanner prefers to pursue and take feathered prey in midair. Occasionally it has been known to attack small rodents and lizards on the ground. As it is a smaller species of Falcon, the Lanner mainly predates on small songbirds and doves. It was famous to the Ancient Egyptians as the "Sun Falcon", due to its clever technique of flying with the sun behind it to ambush unsuspecting birds. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the Lanner actually descended from the sun itself to attack, possibly a link to the Falcon-headed sun god Horus.

( Falco tinnunculus )
The Kestrel is one of the most common British birds of prey and is certainly one of the most frequently seen. This small Falcon is distinctive for its hovering flight, often seen today hanging still in the air at the sides of roads. Their preferred prey is small rodents including mice, shrews and voles although very occasionally they will also take small birds. When a Kestrel is seen hovering above a grassy verge, she is on the lookout for rodents down below, ready to stoop down and grab them before carrying them away to a favoured eating place. However while the Kestrel searches she is rarely looking for the rodents themselves. The Kestrel can see ultraviolet light, and the urine trails left by rodents fluoresce brightly to the Kestrel's eyes. By following the networks of trails, she watches carefully for movement at the end of the trail before stooping in for the attack, a practise that cleverly narrows down an entire field of hiding places to a few potential locations. The plumage differs from male to female, with the females being a brown colouration all over with black markings (as pictured) and the male having a blue head and tail.

Eagles (like the Hawks & Buzzards) belong to the order Accipitriformes and the family Accipitridae. There are more than 60 species of Eagle in the World - most are from Eurasia and Afica. Outside Eurasia and Africa, only 14 known species can be found; 2 in North America, 9 in South America and 3 in Australia. Like Buzzards, Eagles are referred to as Broadwings. meaning that they are characterized with having long, broad wings and long flight feathers, which allow them to soar high above open plains and water, however some species of Eagle have shorter wings and longer tails which enables them to hunt their prey in the tight confines of forests. The Golden Eagle is probably the best known species of Eagle and is the most widely distributed species of Eagle in the World. Given their size and strength, most Eagles can hunt large prey such as deer and monkeys, whereas some species such as the Steppe Eagle are often found eating carrion but will kill mammals up to the size of a hare. The largest species of Eagle is known as the Harpy Eagle; weighing between 9 to 22lbs, standing at between 3-4ft and with a wingspan of between 5ft 9in to 7ft 4in (range is between that of a male and female - the female being larger). Most Eagles lay just 2 eggs when breeding, however the largest of the 2 chicks usually kills the younger, smaller chick, usually without any interference from the adult Eagles. The Eagles vision is among the sharpest of any animal in the World; some Eagles can spot the size of a rabbit up to 2 miles away! You will find below the species of Eagle that we currently have in our collection, along with information and photographs of each species.
Steppe Eagle
( Aquila nipalensis )
The Steppe Eagle is a medium sized Eagle, roughly half the size of its relative the Golden Eagle, and is found native to the Russian and Mongolian Steppes, as well as other areas of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Despite their intimidating appearance, this species is almost exclusively a scavenger and will only occasionally take prey such as rabbit and partridge. It will also use its larger size to steal food off other birds. The Steppe Eagle is also migratory, and will travel to Africa. As it is very similar in behaviour and diet to its African relative, the Tawny Eagle, the two will often be seen at one kill.

Postal Address :- Shieldaig Lodge Falconry, Shieldaig Lodge Hotel, Badachro, Gairloch, Ross-Shire, IV21 2AN

Call Us :- +44 (0)1445 741 738

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Call the Shieldaig Lodge Hotel :- +44 (0)1445 741 333

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Travel to :- We are located at the Shieldaig Lodge Hotel which is located in the Highlands of Scotland at Gairloch, in Ross-Shire.

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