Falconers ensure show goes on behind closed doors for castle’s birds of prey

Falconers at Warwick Castle are pressing on with their normal duties during the coronavirus lockdown – feeding and flying dozens of birds of prey despite the attraction being closed to visitors.

Head falconer Chris O’Donnell, who is living at the site, said he and two colleagues looking after the birds were getting used to the “weird” situation.

Head falconer Chris O’Donnell exercises a Steller’s sea eagle at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell exercises a Steller’s sea eagle at Warwick Castle
An Andean condor flies over a video journalist at Warwick Castle
An Andean condor flies over a video journalist at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell exercises a Steller’s sea eagle at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell exercises a Steller’s sea eagle at Warwick Castle

Mr O’Donnell told the PA news agency: “Life is going on. We have been shut for about a month now but we have around 70 eagles and vultures, ranging from Andean condors downwards, that still need exercise and flying.

“We are flying birds every day. Nobody has seen it, but life goes on.”

Mr O’Donnell, whose team works with the birds from dawn until dusk every day, added: “It has changed dramatically because the birds are used to seeing thousands of people here that come and enjoy the show.

“I’m pretty sure that when we open up and all the people come flooding back in, we’re going to have a few weeks where it’s going to take the birds a while to settle down again.

Head falconer Chris O’Donnell with a white-tailed sea eagle at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell with a white-tailed sea eagle at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell exercises falcons at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell exercises falcons at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell with a white-tailed sea eagle at Warwick Castle
Head falconer Chris O’Donnell with a white-tailed sea eagle at Warwick Castle

“But exercise has got to go on… so we are living on site and getting on with it.”