Kites Return to Gateshead
The young birds that were being used for the re-introduction to the north east of England originated from the thriving English population centred on the Chilterns.
Birds were taken from successful nests in the Chilterns (e.g. one chick from a nest of two or three young) once the birds were able to feed themselves and regulate their own body temperature. This happened when they are about three to four weeks old.
After veterinary inspection, they were transported to the northeast, where they were reared in pens, in secure situations until they were ready to fledge and become independent.
After release, birds were provided with supplementary food for a short period until they were capable of foraging for themselves (this is known as 'hacking').
All birds that were released were 'wing-tagged' with individually numbered, coloured plastic wing-tags. The colour of the left wing tag indicates the kite project (pink for Northern Kites). The right wing tag indicates the year of release (yellow for 2004, orange for 2005 and green for 2006).
Ninety-four kites were released in the first three years of the Project (between 2004 and 2006). Twenty kites were released in 2004; forty-one kites were released in 2005 and thirty-three kites were released in 2006.
Each kite released was also given a radio transmitter, worn as a backpack, that fit snugly amongst the birds feathers. Transmitters had individualised frequencies so that the movement and welfare of the bird could be monitored.
On release of the first birds, the Project attracted a message of support from the Prime Minister. There has been extensive media coverage of the work of the project by local television and radio, as well as national and regional press and specialist publications.