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As wildlife carers our main aim is to diagnose, treat, assess and return our native birds of prey back into the wild as quickly as possible. The length of time a bird remains in captivity is determined by the severity of the injury and the amount of rehabilitation required for this bird to return to it original health.

During the rehabilitation process a bird of prey can lose condition very quickly. Three to four weeks in captivity, a bird can loose up to 70% of it fitness. Over longer periods of time muscle tone can change making the bird of prey physically incapable of performing at optimum levels on release.

The final stage of the rehabilitation process, when dealing with birds of prey, should include some form of fitness/exercise training. It is important that these birds are returned to their natural environment in the best possible physical condition in order to survive. However this should not be done at the expense of the birds themselves by releasing them to late or too early or with the lack of fitness needed.

Selecting a release site:

  • Birds which have been in care for a short time should be released where they were found or at the nearest safe point to their site of origin.  

  • The release site must provide habitat meeting the nutritional, biological and behavioral needs of the bird being released and must be in the known distribution of the species. 

  • Appropriate prey must be available

  • The habitat/terrain must be appropriate for the hunting technique of the species.

  • Birds should not be released into a territory containing residents of the same species; 

  • This may not be possible for the commoner species.

  • The relevant landowners and managers must agree to the release on their land and be supportive.

  • Releasing birds repeatedly from one location should be avoided because local suitable territories are likely to become saturated.  

  • The different habitat requirements of some species at different time of year must be considered.


Timing of release:

  • Release in fine weather.

  • Release during the day (diurnal birds) or at dusk (owls). 

  • Release in winter (poor food availability) or spring/breeding season (intense territoriality in wild birds) is probably inappropriate (except for birds which have only been in captivity for a short time) as competition for territory is great and all local territories will already be occupied. 

  • Migratory species must be released during the period when that species is normally present in the RSA.


The release and behavior: 

  • The release will take place in a safe and secure location from both animal and human activities. 

  • Birds of prey are not flock species and each release should be individuals per occasion.

  • A release will take place during a specific season only, depended on the specie, age and history of being in captivity.

  • Birds of prey are nervous animals and will take cover immediately after the release. This will have the same affect on other species as a predator has been released.

  • The release will have no affect on human activities, breeding sites, air traffic and or sensitive locations, as the release site will be carefully picked to ensure the maximum safety and success of a much needed conservation program.

WildRaptor conservancy is a falconry company who focus on conservation through not only education but in rehabilitation programs. All our staff members are highly skilled falconers and animal trainers with extensive experience. We believe that there is an important and historic value in keeping the age-old skills of falconry alive as part of the importance of conservation, education and rehabilitation.

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