One of the world’s rarest birds has bred at Sudeley Castle as the busy breeding season gets underway at the castle pheasantry.
Dozens of rare-breed pheasant chicks have hatched, including a species of bird so endangered it has not been seen in the wild for nearly 20 years.
Five Edward’s pheasant chicks are among the latest additions to the castle collection – a huge boost for the captive breeding programme for the species which is on the brink of extinction. The species is listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of Threatened Species.
It’s a busy time at the pheasantry, which is home to one of the largest public collections of rare-breed pheasants in the world. Many other rare species have also had chicks - among them are nine junglefowl, three Crawfurds Kalij, five Lady Amhersts and two blue-eared pheasant chicks – with more eggs currently being incubated.
Sudeley Castle’s bird curator, John Sherlock has looked after birds at the castle for 24 years. He said: “It’s a very busy time but the breeding success has been terrific. To have had such success with the Edwards’s pheasants in particular is fantastic, especially as they have all been parent-reared. To be able to make a real contribution to the European captive breeding programme for birds that are really under threat in the wild is an amazing achievement.”
Working closely with the World Pheasant Association (WPA), Sudeley Castle’s pheasantry is dedicated to the conservation of species either extinct in the wild or endangered. Sudeley Castle is part of coordinated breeding programme for these bird species, to help restore the numbers of these beautiful birds.
The pheasantry was created by the late Lord Ashcombe and is home to 16 rare and endangered species from around the world. Pheasants are one of the most threatened bird groups in the world, with dozens classified as rare or endangered.
As well as the species that have recently bred, Sudeley Castle is also home to Siamese firebacks, Mikado pheasants, Himalayan monal pheasants, red junglefowl, Elliot’s pheasants and many more. It is also home to a pair of beautiful male peacocks that can often be seen roaming freely around the grounds.
Today, Sudeley Castle is widely recognised as one of the most romantic and beautiful buildings in England, surrounded by a 1,200 acre estate and 10 award-winning gardens which are now in full bloom.
Sudeley is the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds – Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Today visitors can explore the beautifully restored 15th century church where she lies entombed.