Bird garden at historic house plans to claw back spending

Harewood House and Bird garden
Harewood House and Bird garden
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The Bird Garden at Harewood House has been delighting visitors since 1970 but the recession means staff are being cut and some species are to be rehomed.

The garden dates back more than 40 years to when the late, 7th Earl, George Lascelles, added his generation’s contribution to the estate.

Like many parts of Harewood, the garden has for a number of years relied on volunteers to improve the visitor experience.

Shuttle drivers meet visitors from buses on the A61 and transport them to the house saving that long walk along the driveway while volunteer gardeners help the permanent staff keep the grounds looking at their very best throughout the year.

And volunteer bird garden rangers are there to answer questions and ensure the birds are not disturbed by over-enthusiastic youngsters.

There have been some memorable highlights in the Bird Garden over the years.

Two years ago when the first flamingo chick reared at Harewood in 20 years, was successfully hatched, hundreds of people came specifically to see that one bird.

And although red kites are not part of the collection, they were released 12 years ago, rangers are asked every day where they can be seen.

A spokeswoman for Harewood said: “Next season at Harewood you will begin to see changes in our Bird Garden.

“We are currently in the process of investigating and seeking advice as to the future development of the Bird Garden.

“But due to this action, some areas of the Bird Garden will be closed ahead of these planned works.

“Certain species will be re-homed with other collections for the foreseeable future and it may also mean a reduction in staff numbers.

“Harewood is not immune to the current global financial crisis, and we are simply not in a position to make the kind of financial investment that the Bird Garden presently needs to return it to the leading position it once held.

“We will be working hard to ensure any impact on the visitor experience is minimised.

“The popular favourites – penguins, flamingos, parrots – will remain and be better housed than before in newly re-configured and larger aviaries.

“We will also continue to be involved in captive breeding programmes, but if we are going to sustain Harewood, its buildings, gardens and collections at the level we have so successfully maintained over the years, savings will have to be made.”

robert.sutcliffe@ypn.co.uk