New aviary for injured birds of prey

A kestrel in one of the new aviaries at East Winch Picture: RSPCA

A kestrel in one of the new aviaries at East Winch Picture: RSPCA - Credit: Archant

Two new aviary blocks have been built at an animal hospitalto help recovering birds get back into the wild.

The new aviaries Picture: RSPCA

The new aviaries Picture: RSPCA - Credit: Archant

The RSPCA has opened the bespoke new building at its East Winch Wildlife Centre, near king's Lynn.

The generous new aviaries are vital for a bird's final stage of rehabilitation, as it builds up its flight strength ready for impending release.

One will be home to birds of prey, while the second will be used for garden-type birds. Waterfowl and seabirds are rehabilitated in separate deep pool areas.

So far this year more than 500 birds have been cared for at the centre, including tawny owls, kestrels, barn owls, sparrowhawks, buzzards, a peregrine falcon, blackbirds, thrushes, rooks, sparrows, pigeons and many more. The number was down on previous years due to the fact that sick and injured birds were taken to other centres while the new aviary block was being built.

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Centre manager Alison Charles said: 'Our previous aviaries had served us well, but after many years of use they were becoming tired and required extensive work. It had always been a dream of ours at the centre to have new state-of-the-art aviaries, and thanks to the generous support of the Katherine Martin Trust, the national RSPCA and so many wonderful fundraisers in Norfolk and further afield, we have been able to pay for this amazing new facility, which will make such a difference to the rehabilitation of the birds we care for.'

Last year the East Winch centre admitted 4,657 casualties, 64pc of those were birds. Many were sick, injured, contaminated or orphaned birds who all required emergency care followed by a period of rehabilitation, which can last several weeks.

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The idea for a centre began during the seal virus epidemic in 1988 when the RSPCA and Greenpeace were given an old garage in Docking as a base to treat sick seals.

It soon became clear that a more permanent wildlife centre was badly needed in west Norfolk, to care for many other wildlife casualties which were being brought in. The RSPCA purchased and converted an old farm building in East Winch and the Wildlife Centre was opened in 1992.

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