Kenilworth Castle visitor has eye for the birds

By IH 10/07 Updated: 10/07 14:07

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Buy photos » Dudley looking for love at Kenilworth Castle aviary. (s)

AN AMOROUS visitor to Kenilworth Castle has an eye for the birds.

The aviary in the Elizabethan Garden has become something of a magnet for a male pheasant regularly seen hanging around outside trying to attract the attention of some of the resident females.

The jewel covered aviary is a work of art in its own right and something a a luxury des-res for birds, one the lovestruck pheasant obviously wants to move into.

Castle property manager Holly Woodward said: “Although you would imagine that birds might prefer to be living out in the open, I guess that this really is the bird equivalent of a luxury hotel – they are fed regularly with only the choicest oats and maize, they have a fantastic view over one of the finest gardens in Warwickshire, and they have warm and dry shelter when the weather is inclement.

“Is it any wonder that our wild visitor is not only smitten by the beautiful birds, but also by their luxury home?”

Staff have nicknamed the romance-seeking pheasant ‘Dudley’ after Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, as it seems that the unlucky bird’s love will be unrequited in much the same way the one time owner of the castle courted but never captured Queen Elizabeth I.

But not one to admit defeat, ever-faithful Dudley the pheasant stands guard over the aviary, often chasing away other pheasants that dare approach.

The aviary today is home to a range of birds, including pheasants, quail and canaries - a very different collection of residents from those that would have graced the aviary during Elizabeth I’s visit in 1575, which was the primary reason for building the aviary.

Holly explained: “Although we don’t know the exact birds that were introduced, the whole of the Elizabethan garden was about showing off to make a pleasure garden fit for a queen. The obelisks are painted to recreate the most expensive marble in the world, and as the aviary only had to suit its purpose for the duration of Elizabeth’s visit, it is likely that it would have been filled with the most colourful exotic birds available, imported especially.

“However, as the British climate would have been somewhat cooler that they would have been used to, it is doubtful whether they would have survived beyond the visit.”

The recreated Elizabethan Garden opened in 2009, having been painstakingly reconstructed based on contemporary descriptions and archaeological evidence from an extensive survey of the site.

Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/kenilworth for further details.

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Buy photos» The bejeweled aviary which Dudley fancies moving into. 19.09.005.leam.jm3

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