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Sheffield school pupils have a real hoot

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Fifty children from a Sheffield school were rewarded for their good behaviour and hard work with a visit from Dusty the African spotted eagle owl and Oslo the Harris hawk from the Falconry for Schools programme.

The birds and handler Rhiannon Cowling were invited into school on Wednesday (13 December) as part of a “golden card” celebration for the youngsters from Meersbrook Bank Primary School, with 25 children from reception and years one and two meeting the birds in the morning and the older pupils in the afternoon.

Headteacher Rachel Edwards said: “The children absolutely loved meeting the birds of prey, learning what they eat and finding out the difference between nocturnal birds and those that hunt in the daytime.

“It was a bit of a treat for those who have made extra effort in their work and behaviour and was a really different experience for them.”

Falconry for Schools is an initiative run by the Countryside Alliance Foundation that takes birds of prey into schools and colleges across England and Wales, to teach pupils about the history of falconry and the lifecycle and habitats of our native raptors.

Yorkshire instructor Rhiannon Cowling, of SMJ Falconry in Oxenhope, West Yorkshire said that the courses are tailored to the age group of the children she is teaching.

“Today we focused on identification of birds of prey, facts about owls and hawks, learning what they eat and how they behave, they then got a chance to see them fly. The children seemed really interested and were very well behaved.”