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Millets Farm Falconry

Home > Oxford > Escape the City | Fun for Children | Nature | Outdoor
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published August 9th 2015
Gorgeous but deadly birds
Millets Farm Falconry offers you the chance to see, watch fly and even handle over 80 birds of prey. Billed as the largest centre of its kind in Oxfordshire, it certainly has a great variety of birds and makes an excellent half day out for anyone with an interest in nature. From huge eagles to tiny kestrel chicks, they have a wonderful range of birds, all with one thing in common - their beauty is matched by their hunting ability.

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Snowy Owl

If you buy one of the 'experience' sessions, then you are able to engage with the birds even more than a general visitor. For example for the half day session, you arrive before the centre is officially open and a small group of you (around a dozen) spend the first hour learning about the centre, and beginning to handle some of the birds.

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American kestrel

You're given gloves to hold the birds on, and a staff member will introduce the birds you're able to hold, from kestrels to falcons.

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A chance to hold a range of birds

A private tour of the site is next. You won't be able to meet every bird, but the staff are passionate about their birds and will introduce you to as many as possible.

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Some of the falcons

The raven, for example, is thought to be roughly as intelligent as a seven year old child, so his aviary has toys in it, and staff are able to talk to him and call him with the bell on the side of the grill. The turkey vultures, in contrast, sit more aloofly on their perches, but are vital to nature as they clear up all the unwanted natural debris other animals leave aside. The largest birds they have are some fabulous eagles. Once common in this country, they're endangered and in need of protection, Close up you can appreciate how extraordinary they are.

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One of the eagles at Millets Farm Falconry centre

Once you have wandered through the aviaries you have a chance to fly the birds in a paddock. Again you put on a glove. One by one birds are brought out - a kestrel perhaps, or a barn owl, or even a falcon. A small piece of food is placed on the glove, you raise your arm, and the bird flies to perch on you. It's a glorious chance to watch the birds in action, and study them close up.

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Luke the falconer with a hawk

Ziggy the barn owl came out to play for us. It only takes a few moments to remember what their alternative name is - screech owl - as Ziggy kept vocal throughout the whole demonstration.

barn owl, millets farm, falconry
Ziggy the barn owl

After this, you join back in with other visitors. There are regular flying shows throughout the day, where the falconers fly a range of birds. The striated caracara flits round the auditorium finding food.

millets farm falconry striated caracara
The striated caracara

The owls enter to a cry of 'aaah', but their lethal hunting prowess is evident as they fly confidently around.

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Cute, but vicious, a snowy owl

Kestrels, falcons, hawks, kites and many more will come out over the day, making this an excellent chance to revel in birds. You have plenty of time to watch them in their aviaries , through the grills, through peepholes, or, for those with stronger legs, tethered to perches.

There are information boards by each bird, introducing the species and giving you a sense of how endangered they are. The birds all also have names, which are chalked up beside them.

The centre has only been running since 2013, so is still in its infancy, rearing lots of young birds on site so that they feel comfortable in this environment. The staff are knowledgeable, helpful and clearly devoted to the birds. a visit here will definitely leave you enthusiastic about the magnificent, majestic birds of prey.

millets farm falconry
Millets Farm Falconry centre

There is a small shop, and plenty of parking (a few minutes' walk away). Access for prams and wheelchairs should be fine. You can pre-order tickets on the website, or buy them on the day. Experience sessions need to be booked in advance.
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Why? Birds of prey up close and personal
When: variable but summer holidays 10:30-5 every day
Phone: 07912357484
Where: Millets Farm Centre, Kingston Road, Frilford, Nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 5HB
Cost: Basic entry 3.95 for children and 6.95 for adults. Packages vary.
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