Newest Review: ... with the gift shop. A lovely small gift shop which has gifts from mugs or calenders to even a stuffed souvinier of the owls you may of seen... more
Furry Balls of Fun. (Uh, Kinda)
Screech Owl Sanctuary (Cornwall)
Member Name: Epiphany
Screech Owl Sanctuary (Cornwall)
Date: 12/04/01, updated on 14/08/01 (303 review reads)
Advantages: Wide variety of Owls, get to stroke them, informative tours
Disadvantages: Might be a little hard to find
The Screech Owl Sanctuary is fantastic. Even if you only ‘like’ owls, you will be impressed by this place. For Owl lovers I’m sure you will be delighted with the range of species you can see and also the work that is undertaken here. I’m finding it hard to decide where to start…. Here goes…
The Screech Owl Sanctuary is so called because it is owned by Mr and Mrs Screech. Yes, that is their real name and not some sort of marketing ploy!
Screech’s purpose is not just to let the public look at and touch the owls; it also rehabilitates animals involved in accidents or that have been neglected, gives homes to owls from private collections and is involved in various breeding programmes.
Owls from as far as Siberia have been sent to the sanctuary for breeding, and if successful, most of the chicks, if not all, will be sent back. The sanctuary works on a policy that if a bird is tame (that is it is hand bred and has not attacked anyone) it will be kept at the sanctuary for display purposes. The aim is to have two birds of each variety to display, thus, some of the chicks hatched here will be brought up to show to the public. Having two birds of each breed allows rotation so the birds don’t get too tired. If the animal is wild, or unfit to display (for example if it has attacked someone) it will be released eventually.
Recently, a number of owls were donated by a private collector who had had a heart attack and was no longer able to look after the birds. These birds are now being looked after by the people at screech who are gradually getting the birds used to being handled by people other than their previous owner.
Many of the wild owls that have been disabled in accidents have a ‘private’ area where the public can’t go. From the description provided to us, this seemed to be a recovery area for those who weren’t as seriously injured, and a so
rt of disabled area for those birds that would not return to the wild. Here there are ladders and planks so that they can get around their enclosure, and places to hide and I suppose nest.
Shop, Tour and Handling
So, those are the purposes of the sanctuary. Visitors are taken through the shop (where car stickers, calendars, pens, broaches, badges, mugs, wall hanging, notepads, placemats and other reminders can be bought) through to the main part of the sanctuary. From here the time you spend can go two different ways, depending on when you arrive. You will either go straight to the owl handling session or on a guided tour of the owls.
The tours are great. When I went in March, a number of the birds were nesting or had chicks. The tour guide told us about each owls nesting behaviour and how they would bring up their young. I won’t provide all the details here because this is an opinion about the sanctuary and not about the breeding activities of different owl species!!! The guides all have a great in depth knowledge of the birds, some even have very close bonds with them. The girl we were shown around by had hand bred one of the owls and subsequently it built nests for her and also would snuggle up into her hair whilst on her shoulder. The owls from the private collection I mentioned earlier are not used to sitting on gloves, so they will behave for a while but eventually they will let go and fall off, playing dead. Also there is one owl who barks like a dog, and another who torments the Screech’s dog by playing with a ball in it’s enclosure! You can ask questions at any point, and you are almost guaranteed an answer… that is how good they are!
During the handling sessions you can find out more about a variety of owls (these change visit by visit) and also touch most of them. Usually the owls in this part include: Barn Owls (one of them doesn’t like children or small adults so you may not be able to st
roke him), Snowy Owls, Little Owls and Tawny Owls. Other, rare species may also be available to stroke, for example the Indian Scops Owls.
Location, Cost, Website
The sanctuary can be found near the Goss Moor on the A30. Travel towards St Mawgan Airport and Blackacre, and you will be getting close. I’m hopeless with directions, but next time I go I will take notes. There is a map on their website in the meantime. Here you will also find more information about the owls, purposes of the sanctuary and much much more, then you can come back here and correct me if I am wrong! The site can be found at www.owlsanct.freeserve.co.uk
The centre is open all year round from 10 am. With the recent foot and mouth crisis it may well be worth checking the centre is open by ringing 01726 860182 although at the height of the crisis we were still able to visit.
The entry fee is cheep (almost a pun) at about £3.50 for adults and £1.50 for children as I recall. The money goes towards the upkeep of the owls etc. Donations are also welcomed and you can sponsor an owl personally for £25 per year (for which you will receive a certificate, picture of your owl and 2 adult passes) or a company can pay £50 +VAT (you will get a certificate and plaque at the site for your advertising). The entry fee can be cheepened (sorry, couldn’t resist) further by purchasing a copy of the Cornish Guardian. Enclosed weekly is a voucher to get half price entry for one adult, or a special handling session for a child. I’m not sure how much the Guardian is, but I can find out and update this opinion later.
OK, enough already… I have a headache and I have done no work all morning, I apologise if the spelling is lousy but I will sort it all out later!
I hope I haven’t bored you and that this is of some use to you! Please go, it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon or a morning.