Surprise baby hawk

THRILLED staff at a Suffolk bird sanctuary are flying high after a pair of hawks delivered an unexpected surprise.The pair of 15-year-old Harris' Hawks had already pleased staff at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary by raising one chick during the normal breeding season but they caught everyone at the Stonham Aspal centre by surprise by raising another this month.

THRILLED staff at a Suffolk bird sanctuary are flying high after a pair of hawks delivered an unexpected surprise.

The pair of 15-year-old Harris' Hawks had already pleased staff at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary by raising one chick during the normal breeding season but they caught everyone at the Stonham Aspal centre by surprise by raising another this month.

The as-yet-unnamed hawk was born in an incubator after being removed from its parents five days before it was due to hatch and is now happily back with its parents.

"It's an unexpected treat," head falconer Andy Hulme said.

"It was such a big surprise to go in and see some more eggs. We didn't expect that."

The falconers first discovered they might be in for a feathery surprise when they removed the first young hawk, which has been named Uncle Albert, at 14 weeks and noticed the mother had produced a second clutch of eggs.

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Toward the end of the four to five week incubation period the egg was removed from the enclosure and placed in an incubator where the young hawk hatched on October 10.

The mother was given dummy eggs to ensure she remained broody and the hatchling has since been returned to the care of its parents.

"We hatched him in the incubator and we reared him until he went back in on Wednesday," Mr Hulme said.

"There's always the chance the mother could go up and literally attack and kill it so your heart is in your mouth."

But before long the mother began caring for her new arrival and it is now developing well.

It is not unheard of for Harris' Hawks to lay two clutches of eggs in a season but it is the first time it has happened at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary.

"You can get birds lay two clutches but it is quite unusual for that to happen," Mr Hulme said.

The first chick, Uncle Albert, is now in training to take part in shows at the centre but the latest arrival will not undergo any training until it is fully grown at 14 weeks.

By that stage it could weigh as much as two pounds and span 30 inches from tail to head.

Staff will not name the hawk until it has developed and they know what sex it is.

Has your pet done something out of the ordinary? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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