A FLYING visit from feathered friends had elderly residents all in a flap of excitement at a Teesside care home.

Owls, falcons and hawks were among the birds of prey taken to meet residents living at the home, in Middlesbrough, by North Yorkshire Moors Birds of Prey.

Residents at The Gables Care Home, on Highfield Road, had the opportunity to hold and stroke the birds before watching a falconry display.

Carer Danielle Gribbin was recruited by falconer Mark Allen to hold a Harris Hawk called Chilly before letting her fly across the lounge.

Danielle said: “I had hold of the lure attached to Chilly’s leg and, when Mark told me to, I released the hawk and she flew straight across the lounge to Mark.

“I was amazed the residents were so fascinated by the birds. It was lovely they could stroke the birds, who have imprinted on humans and are used to being handled.

“It was a totally different experience for the residents and none of them had been up close to birds of prey before.”

Alongside Chilly the Harris Hawk, the other visitors included Ben the Little Owl, Barnie the Barn Owl, Edward the Snowy Owl, Mrs Robinson the Eagle Owl and Bonnie the Hybrid Falcon.

Mark presented each of the birds and spoke about what they eat, whether they hunt in family groups or alone and at night or during the day, where their natural habitats are for roosting and their life expectancy in captivity.

Resident Sheila Scarth bonded with Edward the Snowy Owl, who rested on her arm. She said: “The owl is gorgeous. His feathers are so soft. I loved talking to him and I think he was listening.”

Resident James Haslam added: “There must have been about 20 birds in the lounge, all different sizes. I held Chilly and she wasn’t as heavy as I thought she’d be.

“I’ve liked birds all my life, and kept pigeons, but the owls were very special. I’d love to have had a snowy owl.”

Pam Rodgers, home manager at The Gables Care Home, said: “A massive thank you to Mark from North Yorkshire Moors Birds of Prey for bringing the birds to our care home.

“The residents absolutely loved watching and getting to hold them, which none of them had done before. We’re always keen to give residents new experiences and this one was incredible.”