A new family-run falconry display business based at Rufford Abbey Country Park has really ‘taken off’, with crowds flocking to see its magnificent birds of prey.
Hawks of Steele is run by husband and wife team, Dave and Trish Steele, who have decades of experience in caring for and training birds of prey and wanted to share their passion with other people.
“We have always cared for birds of prey and it’s something we want other people to experience,” said Trish.
“We are a family that’s always been around birds of prey and were shocked at how many people have never experienced or understood them.”
Hawks of Steele runs increasingly popular falconry courses, performs displays and even hires out its birds for pest control, where the birds chase away unwanted pigeons from farmers’ fields.
They take their birds to Rufford every weekend where members of the public love to handle and stroke the owls, falcons and hawks.
“Our falconry courses are unique,” said Trish.
“They are quite hands on - people take the birds out themselves and learn the falconry techniques.
“We want to educate them and it’s part of the conservation as well.”
The birds live at Trish and Dave’s Rainworth home in a specially-made aviary and they also nurse disabled and injured birds back to health with help from a dedicated vet in Hucknall.
“If they are handed in and they can be set free again, that’s what happens,” said Dave.
“If they can’t, we try and give them the best life we can.
“It’s a 24/7 thing.”
Hawks of Steele’s birds are a mixture of rescue birds and those bred by the family, some from their daughter’s centre, Park Rose Birds of Prey Centre and Animal Park in Bridlington.
They have a boobuck owl, barn owls, a Bengalese Indian eagle owl, an American kestrel and a harris hawk, plus many others breeds, with the birds all flying free during displays but always coming back to their keepers.
Displays are held regularly at Rufford, with big events coming up at the Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest on 10th August and Clumber Park.
They also hold sessions at schools across the area, where they take the birds for the children to see and learn about, and they run a Young Falconer’s Club, where youngsters aged eight to 14 learn how to handle the birds themselves.
And one of their barn owls, Diamond, is even hired out to be a ring bearer at weddings!
“We love it and what’s been really nice is meeting people and seeing places that we have never seen before,” said Trish.
For more information about Hawks of Steele visit www.hawksofsteele.co.uk.