Topvogel, A Birds of Prey Sanctuary

30 October 2021

We probably all saw somewehere in our lives, one or more of those bird shows where they use Birds of Prey and Owls to make money. They train these birds to fly from one hand to another or from a perch back to the trainer, based on starvation. Starting point in these trainings is, If you keep them hungry they always will be drawn to the easy prey. Although I’m also guilty of paying for a show like that in the past, (before I got wise) I’m now strongly opposed.

That is why I had my reservations when I was asked to accompany a few dear friends for a day of photography at a bird of prey farm/park in a village called Diessen in the south part of the Netherlands. After arriving and a first introduction all my reservations disappeared faster than a Peregrine Falcon can fly.

The place made out to be more of a Birds of Prey and Owls sanctuary than a commercial birds exploiting company. Yes, we had to pay a serious entrance fee, but that’s money meant to take care of the birds. Food like mice is more expensive than a good steak and don’t forget the hourly rate of veterinarians.

Here organisations like Zoo’s but random individuals well, bring their sick birds or birds in bad conditions. Some are just found like that, others were poorly held in captivity, but they’re all in need of some serious taking care of. Instead of starving the birds, the owner feeds the birds more than plenty and provides medical attention or medication and although the birds do have cages for the night, during daytime they’re able to fly around freely. The birds however choose to stay in and around the farm, knowing it is a safe haven providing shelter and good food. Of course, now and then, a bird will try its luck again in the other free world.

All birds used for demonstration, are in good shape. They don’t wear caps or hoodies if you will and most birds don’t wear leather straps to tie them down. The owner can tell you all about the birds and their behaviour and a day here at the farm will definitely be very educational. Several Owl species, Falcons and Eagles will show you their skills en their beauty.

By far the most inspiring bird farm I’ve visited until now and as you can see… pure fun and a perfect place to make great images. So, Topvogel at Diessen.. THE place to be, if you want to learn about these kinds of birds. Have fun!