Birdland Park & Gardens in the Cotswolds

October 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

Birdland Park & Gardens, located in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds, is home to more than 500 birds representing around 140 species, including pelicans, flamingos, penguins, storks, cranes, cassowary and a variety of waterfowl in their water habitats, with over 50 aviaries housing exotic parrots, owls, toucans, touracos, pheasants, hornbills and more. The park is also home to the only King penguins to be found in England, Ireland and Wales and a webcam allows visitors an up-close view of these fascinating birds. Specialized habitats at the park include the Desert House and Toucan House. The Marshmouth Nature Walk covers an area of 2.5 acres with a network of pathways featuring hides and feeding stations, offering visitors an opportunity to enjoy the wildlife in a tranquil haven.

The Discovery Zone features a play and seating area with two display areas, one of which offers examples of all classes of animals, including birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals and amphibians, with the other answering the question “What is a bird?” Explanations include the purpose of a bird’s feathers and how they relate to camouflage, displays in courtship, warning signals and habitat conditions. The Snowy Owl is a good example of the multiple uses of feathers with dense feathers and feathered feet offering warmth in their Arctic habitat and their color providing camouflage. The use of beaks, feet, legs and claws are detailed, along with various feeding habits. Nesting habits of birds, their breeding cycles, fledglings and parenting patterns are other fascinating topics covered at Birdland. Birds of prey – vultures, falcons, hawks, eagles, harriers and owls – are among the highlights of a visit to this nature sanctuary, and visitors will discover how they use their keen eyesight, speed in flight and talons to catch their prey with deadly accuracy.

The Desert House is home to birds that live in arid conditions, and visitors can view the birds from a platform at one end of the habitat, while the Toucan House is home to a range of these colorful birds. Events at Birdland include a Summer Talks program; Meet the Keeper; Penguin Feed; Pelican Feed; and Birds of Prey Encounter Days. Facilities include a playground, gift shop and the Penguin Café – everything necessary for a memorable family outing.

Game Birds Losing Feathers

September 13, 2011 by  
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Winter is setting in, and you absolutely do not know what to do. Your quail and pheasants have lost feathers and you don’t want them to get chilled. What do you do?

A common problem in blue scale quail is fright. Similar to when a lizard drops its tail, it is a clever defense mechanism. When a predator grabs the bird, a bunch of feathers drop out, leaving a live quail and an annoyed predator. When someone picks up the blue scales the same happens. A good way to prevent this from happening is to only handle these birds for check-ups or emergencies. If you have extremely tame quail and this only happens rarely, it is okay to handle them.

Pheasants do not have large problems with picking. When it does happen, it is usually with ring-neck pheasants. These slightly aggressive birds will pick or attack other birds. This behavior is known for starting when they are still chicks and becoming more full-fledged (no pun intended) in juveniles and adults. They will even pick at pheasants of their own species. A good way to keep them from hurting flock members is keeping them separate from other pheasants (and other birds in general). If you have a flock of them, give them plenty of space, as well as something else to pick at, such as shoestrings or jingle balls made for cats or parrots.

If you keep your quail and pheasants with chickens, hang shoestrings from the wire or put toys or something inside to provide entertainment. On rare occasions chickens will severely maim their own species or other birds and have been known to engage in cannibalism. This is known to happen due to extreme boredom.

Mites are a very common problem. Remember to keep coops or cages clean at all times and put out dust baths occasionally for your birds.

Even if your birds do not pick it is a good idea to take them to the avian vet yearly. Make sure your birds stay healthy no matter what.

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

February 9, 2009 by  
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Also known as the Common Pheasant, the Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) originated in Asia but was introduced to North America and is now well established over much of the continent. It was also taken to Britain in the 10th century but had to be reintroduced in the 1830s as the original birds died out in the 17th century. Today it is also well established in that country. It is generally regarded as being a game-bird and is often bred for hunting purposes. However, there are several breeding facilities which not only supply hunters but restaurants with these birds. Since the meat can be tought and dry, farm-raised birds are prefereable for consumption.

Generally speaking the Ring-necked Pheasant is a distinctive and colorful species. Its body usually measures between 50-90 cm with the tail often accounting for half the total length. The bird has a chunky shape, round wings and a long tail. The head is small and set on a thin neck. The adult male has a green head with a pale bill and red facial skin around the eye. There is a bold white ring around its neck from which its name is derived. The rest of its plumage is somewhat golden in color with blue and green iridescence as well as black spotting randomly dispersed all over its body. The tail has long, pointed golden feathers with black barring while the legs are spurred. The adult female’s head and underparts are a buffy brown. Her back is dark brown and she has black spots and bars scattered around her head, neck and flanks. Her tail has no barring and she also does not have any spurs. Juveniles resemble females until about two months of age.

Generally speaking this ground-bird prefers cultivated agricultral lands that are interspersed with marshes, hedges and brushy groves. They prefer to run rather than fly and have a short wingspan of only 56-86 cm. Ring-necked Pheasants feed on seeds, grasses, leaves, roots, nuts, wild fruit and insects. They usually nest on the ground in amongst tall grass or weeds in a scrape which is sparsely lined with vegetation. The female may lay between 7-15 eggs in her nest and her chicks are able to leave the nest and feed themselves shortly after hatching. Males are polygynous and usually defend their harem of females from other males quite fiercely. When they are not nesting, Ring-necked Phesants usually roost in trees.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Golden eagle’s scientific name is Aquila chrysaetos and it is part of the Booted or True Eagle family. These beautiful birds can be found throughout the northern hemisphere, living in prairie coulees, mountainous areas and in rugged terrains that create a profuse amount of updrafts.

The golden eagle is about 3 feet or just under a metre, weighing about 15 pounds or 7 kg’s and has a wingspan of about 7 feet or 2 metres. The colour of the eagle is a dark yellowish brown and the bird can live between fifteen and twenty years.

The golden eagle’s territory is in remote areas where it lives a solitary life even through winter. This great hunter, hunts in a large territory that can be up to 162 square miles or 260 square km in size. Due to its expertise in hunting it’s not very often that you will see it eating carrion. The golden eagle eats a wide variety of small animals like the marmots, groundhogs, snakes, pheasants, rabbits, cats, foxes, skunks, grouse, ground squirrel, meadowlarks, crows and tortoises.

The golden eagle will start mating at the age of four years and will stay paired with the same mate for as long as it lives. Occasionally they build their nest in a tree but prefer to nest on cliff faces or in rocky crags, returning every year to the same nest. The female golden eagle will lay between one to three eggs once every year and will do the majority of the 41 to 45 day incubation of the eggs. The male golden eagle’s job is to regularly supply the female with food and together they share the responsibility of looking after and raising the young. When the eaglets are first born they weigh about three ounces and will stay in the nest between nine to eleven weeks before they fledge.

Depending on the territory of the golden eagle, they will either live in their nesting territory throughout the year, or if there is a lack of food in winter, they will migrate a short distance away because of their excellent hunting abilities.