A Golden Eagle Having To Bear A Heavy Lot With A Good Cause – Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre

Orla, the Golden Eagle, a majestic raptor in the Bird of Prey Centre in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in Balloch, Scotland. Thoughts about birds of prey in captivity.

Eager to take off, the Golden Eagle flaps her imposing wings of about two meter wingspan as she spots another bird which appears only as a tiny speck in the sky to the humans limited-sight. But her attempts are futile as the rigid ties keep her firmly to the ground. She has to bear a heavy lot for a good cause and will most probably stay for ever on the grounds of  Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre.

Golden Eagle, Orla

I’ve a lump in my throat as always when admiring wildlife in captivity. Is it worth for a proud eagle to live if it’s not free to fly? Not only, but primarily raptors which impose the feel of freedom in me when I’m observing them circling high up in the sky, make me feel uncomfortable having lost their own freedom for human’s sake.

Humans gave this eagle the name Orla (Gaelic for golden lady). Despite the ties, she still tries to take off falling over repeatedly in a heartbreaking way. The owner comes over to put her back in her cage as he sees her vain attempts to take off and probably also the spectators pity. He knows her and she knows him well. She calms down immediately as she doesn’t have sight of the sky anymore.

Golden Eagle In Captivity
Golden Eagle in Captivity
Can the value of education justify captivity of birds of prey (and any other wild animal)?
Sign boards, presentations and talks can provide the opportunity to educate an audience about a particular species, their behavior, biology and habitats, as well as the threats they face in the wild and what people can do to support conservation efforts.


We humans have reduced the habitat of the Golden Eagle and our wildlife in general at an alarming rate. Vast expanses of forests have gone to be able to produce food for us. Chemicals have been used to allow efficient production which poisoned birds on large scale. There is not much hope to see a Golden Eagle fly over the top of our heads in the wild anymore. To see it in captivity can at least have the advantage to raise awareness to save the last of the about 400 specimens, which may still be roaming the skies above Scotland. 
The piercing eye of a Golden Eagle


Breeding endangered species might vindicate the captivity of raptors, isn’t it?

Surely it would be a good thing to breed endangered raptors like the Golden Eagles and to reintroduce them to their natural habitat if possible. Their are only very few zoo’s in England which are actually involved in co-ordinated breeding programs  and surely to keep one single Golden Eagle like Orla isn’t doing any good for breeding reasons.

Anyway, over 80% of the individual birds in zoos are not of threatened species. (Source: Last in the pecking order – Captive birds in English zoos).

These are some of the other birds we photographed at Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre.


What about exercise? Raptor shows are surely an impressive way to see the birds fly and they get a change of their boring existence as a caged bird.
Flight restrictions of varying kinds are probably the biggest welfare problem facing birds in captivity. Even if there are shows with the raptors its highly unlikely that they can fly every day and more than just a few minutes. Smaller owls are not practical for display flights anyway. Its certainly suitable to exercise the birds and unique to see birds of prey spreading their wings just a couple of meters away from oneself.  The owner of the Bird Of Prey Center in Balloch mentioned his disappointment not to be able to show us his birds in flight – so were we. Other than that he took the time, educated and answered questions tirelessly which was very interesting.
Raptor Show in the Doornenburg, The Netherlands
Here is the link to all of the birds which you find at the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre in Balloch.



Scottish Raptor Study Group
National Eagle Center
Last in the pecking order – Captive birds in English zoos

What do you think of Birds of Prey Centers and Raptor Shows or Zoo’s in general? 


Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre In Scotland   Golden Eagle In Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre

Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

19 thoughts on “A Golden Eagle Having To Bear A Heavy Lot With A Good Cause – Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre”

  1. Beautiful images. I think it’s important to look at the motives and goals of established zoos and wildlife parks. Do they work at conservation, care for injured animals, have breeding programs with the intent on assisting the wild population of reduced species, etc. Those are the types of organizations we should encourage and support. Happy traveling!

    1. Hi Margaret, thanks for your comment. We’ll have an interesting week ahead as we are driving to our next house sit in the south of England. I’m curious about our next dogs, which we are going to care for (and the house of course).

    2. I own the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. Orla does fly, during the hunting season. She is a hunting Eagle. The centre, being a zoo, has responsibilities for conserving and educating. We are inspected on a regular basis to ensure we meet the required welfare standards laid down by the Zoo Licensing Act. The flying birds do have to be tethered, otherwise they would attempt to kill the others, they are natural predators. Do you know Birds of Prey and Owls spend over 95% of their lives doing nothing ? Their instincts are to conserve energy and avoid risk in order to survive. I’m glad the OP listened to most of the information I communicate, and I am sure they recognsed the bond that Orla has with me. Orla is Gaelic for “Golden Lady”. One of the images is incorrectly labelled. The first “Ferruginous Eagle” is in fact a Gyr Falcon. Thank you for your comments. The centre is constantly complimented on the condition and health of the residents, and the contribution the centre makes to the conservation of Birds of Prey & Owls through education and awareness.

      1. Thank you very much for this informative reply adding value to our article about Loch Lomond Bird Of Prey Centre. I took your remarks into account and changed the text mentioned. Thank you for your dedication for these amazing birds and your important work.

  2. It is sad to see any bird not able to fly. I wish the poisons and pesticides were banned to protect all the birds. The Golden Eagle is beautiful!
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  3. I have been to some places where they have raptors in captivity because they cannot live on the wild anymore (injury or birth defects). And, I have been to zoos where they have big birds in cages. Even with the advantages that this may present, I feel a bit sad for the animals. I only hope their enclosures are big enough to provide them certain mobility.

  4. What a thought-provoking post! Indeed the Golden Eagle is beautiful but I do feel it is selfish to “ground” them for human view. They should be free to fly as they were intended. Thank you for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust

  5. Beautiful shots here! They’re such gorgeous birds of prey. Thanks for the comment on my latest post too – it’s a bit of a battle with those cloudy skies on a grey day but when the sun is out it’s always worth the wait. – Tasha

  6. I must apologize from the get-go being so late to stop and view your bird photo shares!! It’s been a tough week here at Anni’s, so the tardiness will end today. I’m here, and enjoyed your photos greatly. What an incredible bird, the golden eagle is, and super commentary.

    Thanks for sharing and adding your link this week at I’d Rather B Birdin’.

What do you think? Your comment is most appreciated.