All raptors have one thing in common, they have grasping talons with which they can catch, kill and eat their prey. This was one of the fascinating facts that the Muncaster Owlets Watch Group learnt this month.
The children were delighted to be able to meet Fidget the Barn Owl and Kevin the Kestrel to see, up close and personal, how even though they are both raptors and eat the same creatures, they use different senses to hunt their prey. Kevin has the ability to keep his eyes focused on one spot, whilst the rest of his body is in movement whilst hovering. This is a skill that allows the Kestrel to find prey, by using its keen eyesight.
Heading outside, the children then tried to understand more about what it is like to be Barn Owl, having to hunt using its highly tuned sense of hearing. The “Owl and Mouse” game involves a child (the owl) who wears a blindfold and stands in the middle of a circle with three or four children (the mice) who wear wristbands made of bells. The idea is for the owl to catch the mice just by listening for them. A really fun way for children to step into an owls shoes, so to speak, and the game was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
To finish off, we thought about nests and which raptor might build the biggest nest of all. This is, of course, the Golden Eagle – Britain’s largest bird of prey. With a wingspan of 2 metres (over 7ft), this species can build a gigantic nest, up to 2m in diameter and sometimes 2-3m deep. With this in mind, the children all worked together to build an Eagle nest or ‘eyrie’ (as it is known). Once finished we all stood back to admire our efforts, making sure any passing visitors would not be too astonished to find that there was a Golden Eagle nesting in the grounds of Muncaster castle, by leaving a sign explaining how the watch club had built the nest.
Learning all about raptors this month, the children quickly realised that if you are on the menu of a bird of prey, then talons can be very terrifying indeed.
Building A Golden Eagle Nest - An Eyrie
|World Owl Trust
Registered Charity Number: 1107529
Limited Company Number: 5296745
The World Owl Trust is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The Trust relies on a dedicated membership, visitors, donations and legacies.