Animalcouriers recently had the good fortune to be help 32 red kite chicks fly from the UK to Spain. The move was part of an ongoing conservation project between the two countries to boost the bird’s numbers in Spain.

It’s not the first time we’ve helped move raptors — we’ve worked with red kites before and also with ospreys.

As we’ve done for previous raptor moves, we provided the flight boxes, which were fitted out to give keep the birds calm and protect the chicks’ wings and feathers from possible damage as they moved around.

We moved the red kite chicks in two groups, two weeks apart, from Cambridgeshire RSPB to Madrid, where they will join red kites previously exported from the UK to Spain.

By collecting the birds early in the morning we were able to get them onto the first flight of the day. Timings were tight for bird welfare reasons and to fit between opening hours in London and closing times in Madrid.

We worked with our Spanish colleagues Automascotas to arrange the birds’ clearances at the Madrid end. The birds’ CITES paperwork — needed as red kites are a protected species — was closely inspected at both end of the trip and on arrival in Spain they underwent thorough vet checks

Once out of customs, the young birds were taken by the Spanish project managers to a quiet location to recuperate from their long day and be prepared for introduction into their new environment.

The birds' flight boxes lined up at Heathrow Airport

The birds’ flight boxes lined up at Heathrow Airport

Here you can see the coverings on the front and sides of the boxes, designed to help keep the chicks calm

Here you can see the coverings on the front and sides of the boxes, designed to help keep the chicks calm

A closer look at one of the chicks, who travelled in pairs

A closer look at one of the chicks, who travelled in pairs

Vet inspection in Spain

Vet inspection in Spain

During the vet inspection, the kites 'flattened out', or spread to the ground — typical behaviour when they want to appear not to be there

During the vet inspection, the kites ‘flattened out’, or spread to the ground — typical behaviour when they want to appear not to be there