A firm favourite on Bournemouth’s summer fete circuit and just 10 miles away in Ringwood, Hampshire, Liberty’s Owl and Raptor Centre will give you a truly unique day out. It’s open on weekends all year round and daily in school holidays and from 1 March to 31 October, with lots of displays and attractions from the Centre’s resident birds and beasts!
The Centre itself is named after Liberty, the larger-than-life Alaskan Bald Eagle who rules the roost! Liberty is just one of the many birds of prey on display here, with owls, hawks and buzzards, vultures and falcons and eagles, caracaras and kites all keen to make your acquaintance. It’s fascinating to see these magnificent specimens at rest but a real thrill if you get to meet or hold one – or watch them in flight in one of the Centre’s daily displays where they can really exercise and spread their wings.
If the weather is rotten, the displays still go ahead at Liberty’s indoor demonstration facilities. But when the sun’s out it’s lovely to watch the majestic owls, hawks, vultures, falcons and eagles as they respond to their keepers’ commands. The falconers at Liberty’s are endlessly knowledgeable about the birds and give fascinating talks and explanations during the various demonstrations and scheduled presentations.
In addition to the resident owls and raptors, Liberty’s also has a fine collection of lizards, snakes and spiders in the Reptile House. During the summer holidays these beasts star in their own daily reptile show, featuring snakes, lizards, spiders and other fascinating creepy crawlies!
If you’re thrilled by the daily flying displays by many of Liberty’s owls and raptors, why not invite them to star at your next occasion or event? They can put on a display tailored to your requirements at schools, fetes or celebrations, with fun and interactive elements and educational scientific and environmental messages too.
Falconer for the Day
If you’re interested in trying one of the oldest sports in the world, Liberty’s can offer a Falconry day, where you can learn all about how to handle and train birds of prey as well as their everyday care and management. Available for ages 10+, you will get the chance to fly various owls, hawks and vultures and trainee falconers over the age of 16 can also handle an eagle! If owls are more your passion, you can choose to spend the day in the company of these stunning creatures, handling and flying them too.
Keen photographer? While owls and raptors make for stunning subjects in any setting, you might be interested in exploring one of Liberty’s dedicated photographic experience days. You can sign up for a day-long course for plenty of opportunities to snap a selection of birds out of their cages with the support of one of the Centre’s expert falconers. For a more natural backdrop, you can join an “owls in the forest” or “raptors in the forest” experience, where, after a briefing, you head into the New Forest to photograph a selection of birds from the Centre on various natural perches.
Liberty’s also opens up its Reptile House on selected evenings to give unprecedented access to photographers. All photography days are open to hobbyists and professionals, and experts are on hand to advise on equipment, settings and shots as required.
Rescue, Breeding and Conservation
Liberty’s is on the site of the former New Forest Owl Sanctuary, which closed in 2003. It reopened as Liberty’s two years later after making many improvements and adaptations to create a modern facility with the wellbeing of the birds at its heart. Today, the Centre is involved in a number of breeding and conservation projects with other sanctuaries and zoos all around the world to protect these beautiful creatures and safeguard their futures.
It is also involved in a number of schemes to help conserve several species in the wild. From breeding to education programmes, Liberty’s uses its expertise to help protect these birds and preserve native populations too. Many of the birds and reptiles here have been rescued and find a safe and permanent home at Liberty’s if they cannot be released into the wild.
Liberty’s also rescues and rehabilitates injured wild birds of prey and works towards their eventual, healthy release wherever possible. All veterinary and maintenance costs are met by admission sales, donations and sponsorships, which makes every visit here a real gift.