A SMALL corner of Bentham which is big in the world of birds of prey rehabilitation is celebrating a couple of milestones.

Corio Raptor Care, run by Nick and Anji Henderson, has been taking in sick and abandoned birds of prey now for 30 years and this summer received its 1,000th bird.

Nick and his entourage of eye-catching charges are often seen at shows and events where they help educate the public and raise funds.

He tells us how the charity started and how it has been a privilege for him to nurse sick birds back to health.

“I can’t believe where the years have gone. It was 30 years ago that I took an injured buzzard in for the first time, and am pleased to say that it was returned back into the wild, but truth be known, it was more luck than experience on that occasion,” said Nick.

“Looking back to 1997 when Anji and I registered Corio Raptor Care as a charity, in those early days it was mainly by word of mouth when birds were admitted into the centre.

“Little did we know how much things would change as more organisations began to use us for rescue work with birds of prey in general.

“It still surprises me that all these years later we still operate as a bird of prey rescue and rehabilitation centre, with organisations such as the RSPCA, RSPB, police, vets and increasingly so, members of the public. “Our Corio Raptor Facebook page is very popular and is where we also receive request from all over the world for advice and have built up a following of many nationalities.

“We are now one of the largest independent, non-profit making, self-funded rehabilitation centre in the northwest.

“Over the years we have developed our community outreach programme that enables us to take certain suitable birds that cannot be released to shows, gala’s, education establishments, clubs and so on. In this way we can raise funds to help with the upkeep of the centre and at the same time inform people on what to look for when chancing upon a chick in the wild, or what to do if they come across an injured bird.

“It amazes me when a mother brings her child and talks to me about her memories of the birds when she was very young. She remembers how she felt when she was close up and could see deeply into the eyes of Boo, the Eurasion Eagle Owl. That’s the impact animals can have on very young children and is why it is so important to talk about the wildlife and how they should be respected in the wild.

“So many birds pass through the centre yearly with various problems which range from general injuries to chicks assumed as abandoned, to deliberate persecution and road traffic casualties. This is the group of birds that are prime candidates for rehabilitation.

“Then we have none-native captive bred birds bought as pets that are no longer wanted. People buying birds of prey is something I feel uncomfortable about and my concerns are due to the lack of experience and knowledge in caring for a bird of prey that can directly lead to suffering and distress to the bird. These non native species are unfortunately unable to be released due to legislation and have to remain in captivity for the rest of their lives, and we can be talking tens of years for some of the larger birds.

“Possibly the hardest and most complex group of birds to work with are very young chicks that have been hand reared by humans and are now totally relaxed and dependant on people, these birds are socially imprinted and in some cases can have permanent psychological and behavioural problems.”

To help cater for the variety of birds and injuries, Corio Raptor Care’s facilities have been designed and built to help promote a swift and successful recovery, hopefully with eventual return to the wild.

The Hospital includes, intensive care units which are heated and dimly lit to create a calming environment, and for the very young birds there are heated incubators and chick rearing units. Seclusion aviaries are the final stage of the rehabilitation process. They limit visual contact with humans and enable exercise for the birds. Images of these are on the Facebook page along with our other permanent residents.

“On Thursday, July12, we received our 1,000th native species bird and what a bird it was, a hobby and in all the years we have received birds, this is only the 2nd Hobby we have taken in.

Hobbies are a rare bird and are a member of the Falcon family that migrate to Africa every year. These birds are slightly larger than a female kestrel but smaller than a male Peregrine.

“This bird was eventually released with the kind help of Darren Shepherd August 1. 2018.

As for the future, who knows? But one thing is certain, the care and rehabilitation of any wild creature is a sensitive and thought-provoking subject.