Things to do in Andover: The Hawk Conservancy
What I loved about it:
I love to see the fantastic flying displays, a chance to see some huge birds flying just inches above your head. I bet you can’t watch without ducking!
Value for money (out of 10):
Why The Hawk Conservancy is one of the best things to do in Andover
Whether you’re looking for things to do in Andover, or you just love to visit wildlife attractions, then the Hawk Conservancy is high up on my list of recommendations.
The newest flying display launched in Spring 2023 and features the most birds EVER flown in one display here. Named ‘Masters of the Sky’ – the aim is to showcase some of the world’s most critically endangered birds of prey.
Some of the world’s largest birds of prey take off from the new 8m towers, swooping fast and low over the heads of the audience. You’ll definitely feel the wind from the wings rushing past, and I can almost guarantee you’ll duck at some point.
It’s awe-inspiring to see the huge wingspans on some of these birds. They have a wide variety of vultures at the Trust and they’re pretty massive when they’re this close. It’s one of the best things to do in Andover because the whole family can get involved and take enjoyment from the flying displays.
There are generally 3 flying displays a day at the Hawk Conservancy; all accompanied by their own soundtrack and commentary from a passionate team. A favourite of the children is usually the first display of the day – I overheard one young guest exclaiming that the secretary bird is his favourite ‘because it eats snakes!’ And I must agree that watching the quiet secretary bird attack a (rubber) snake has always been one of my highlights of a visit here.
My daughter’s favourite display had to be the final one of the day: the owls. She’s not turned 2 years old yet, but ‘owl’ was definitely the word of the day and her face lit up as one of the Great Grey owls flew majestically into the woods.
There was only one family and us who persevered through the rain to watch this 3:45pm show; but that only made it more special. Cedric was able to bring the owls directly onto the benches we sat on and it was incredible to see them so closely. They are quiet, inquisitive creatures; watching silently for their prey.
So aside from the epic flying displays, what makes The Hawk Conservancy one of the best things to do in Andover?
When the birds aren’t taking part in a show, you’ll be able to find them in the many aviaries and perches around the 22-acre site. Some of my favourites are the bald eagles, caracara and barn owls.
My ultimate favourites are the burrowing owls. They are curious little birds, and you’ll often see them perched up against the glass ready to tilt their head at you when you pass. On this visit, I was able to take part in the ‘Meet the Burrowers’ VIP experience. Anyone over 6 years old can upgrade their ticket to join this special session.
Patrick introduced us to 2 of the burrowing owls, and we sat inside the aviary whilst they hopped around. They were encouraged to sit on our hands – very cute! You get a lot of interaction with them in this experience and it’s definitely worth the money for any owl lovers. You’ll learn lots about them and can ask any questions too; all the staff here love to talk about the birds.
There are other experiences you can book such as photographic experiences, birds of prey encounters and children’s owl experiences.
A timetable of activities runs from 11am in the peak season, with many talks and displays. On weekends and school holidays there’s also a tractor ride around the meadow included.
My TOP TIP is to arrive just in time for the 11:30am flying display, and then explore after that. The site isn’t very big, so if you arrive too early then you’ll find you’ve seen everything by the second display and you might feel like you’re hanging around waiting for the final one. The final one is the owls though and you really don’t want to miss it!
There is a children’s play area best suited to 5+ I would say, though my toddler enjoyed the swings. There are picnic benches around, or you can eat in Feathers, the on-site restaurant which serves hot and cold food throughout the day.
There is a huge free car park and also a gift shop which has an array of bird-themed goodies. The Hawk Conservancy Trust is a registered charity, and they do a huge amount of vital conservation work so it’s great if you can support them by visiting.