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Brief History

PE Andy ThompsonUrban Peregrine. Photo Andy ThompsonThe Hawk and Owl Trust was founded in 1969 (as the Hawk Trust) because of concerns about the alarming decline in numbers of Peregrines and other raptors. Owls were added to our remit shortly afterwards and the Hawk and Owl Trust was born.

The fortunes of our various species of bird of prey and owls has changed over the intervening years. Some, such as Peregrine, have returned to our skies and can now be seen all over the country once more, even making their homes in our towns and cities. Other species have made remarkable recoveries, usually with the help of man. No-one in 1969 would have thought that Red Kites would be a common sight in much of the country or that White-tailed Eagles would once again breed here.

It’s not all good news, however, Hen Harriers, and other birds of prey are still victimised and persecuted, traffic collisions and loss of habitat are threatening many species, and we will inevitably start to see the effects of climate change over the coming years.

Barn owl in Pole Trap Copyright Project RaptorBarn Owl caught in a pole trap. Copyright Project Raptor

Hawk and Owl Trust has also evolved over that time, adapting to novel threats and solutions to problems. We have never been afraid to put our ideas into practice, and to demonstrate what does and doesn’t work. We take a bottom-up approach recognising that, as top predators, birds of prey and owls can’t thrive if the rest of the environment isn’t right as well. We use our reserves as exemplars of our management techniques and their demonstrable effects on the populations of raptors and owls, as well as a place where we can educate children and adults to the balance of nature and the place of predators in a healthy ecosystem.

Within our ranks we have some of the leading owl and raptor experts in the country and, together with volunteers from our local group network, we are working with landowners and government in various parts of the UK to create habitats for birds of prey and install nest boxes for species such as Barn Owl, Little Owl and Kestrel.

We campaign for wider protection for owls and raptors and have initiated many projects which research issues such as persecution, habitat loss and road mortality. Our officers work closely with local community groups, bringing bird of prey conservation into the lives of people of all ages.