Magnificent trio get ready to soar

GALLERY Auckland, Hades and Bali are little more than three months old but already are taking their first steps towards flying.

AUCKLAND, Hades and Bali are little more than three months old but already are taking their first steps towards flying.

The little owls, who still have some baby fluff, are being put through their paces by falconer Dean Winham at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket.

Young Auckland is ready to fly, Hades can manage about 15 feet, and Bali can jump from his perch to his falconer's glove for food, which is his first step towards launching himself into the skies.

Mr Winham said: “It is lovely to see them taking their first steps. I have been with them from day one. You rear them, they come home with you, you care for them.

“To get them ready to fly is fantastic, it's like seeing your child getting on a bike and ride for the first time, it's marvellous. They are beautiful, with striking colours and families love seeing them.”

The three are developing quite distinct personalities as Auckland makes cricket sounds and constantly swivels his head as if to talk to people, Hades loves posing for the cameras and Bali sleeps most of the time.

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All three were born at the sanctuary, which has about 95 birds, and are aged between three and three-and-a-half months. Auckland is from the boobok family, Bali from the Malaysian wood breed and Hades a European Eagle Owl.

A boobok is similar to a tawny, originates from Australia, and enjoys eating insects and small rodents.

The Malaysian Wood Owl hunts small mammals and birds and is typically found in habitats stretching from India, across Burma and into China, as well as in Sri Lanka, down through Malaysia and into Indonesia.

Hades is a magnificent bird, from the largest owl family in the world, an awesome hunter, able to kill foxes and small deer with its powerful beak and fearsome talons. His feathers are wonderfully soft, to allow it to glide silently and unheard when hunting.

Do you have an animal which you think people would like to hear about? Have you seen the new owl sanctuary birds in action? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail