Video/Suffolk: The magical barn owl that delivers wedding rings

Gizmo the owl

Gizmo the owl - Credit: Archant

MEET the barn owl that is helping couples in Suffolk say ‘I twit tw-do’.

Catherine and John Defty with Gizmo the owl.

Catherine and John Defty with Gizmo the owl.

Six-year-old Gizmo is providing an exclusive service across the county, delivering wedding rings to brides and grooms.

Steve Younge, owner of Lavenham Falconry, who has also trained eagles and vultures to deliver the symbolic bands to couples at the altar, said the popularity of the experience is really taking off.

“In the last three months I’ve had five bookings. People tend to be amazed when they see it, people have told us it’s the absolute highlight of the wedding, the guests often can’t believe it,” he added.

The birds, which have been hand-reared since the age of 10 days, deliver the ring in a specially made bag that is clipped on to their harnessing.

Mr Younge explained: “When it comes to the rings. The best man, or the bride in some occasions – as most of the time it is her that has organised it – will have a special glove and a piece of meat fixed to the glove. He will pull the glove out of his pocket, raise his arm up and the owl flies straight down the aisle and lands on the glove with the ring.

“When he turns away the owl flies straight back up the aisle.”

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He added that because of their training the birds are never phased or distracted.

Mr Younge, who has been flying birds of prey for 24 years, said: “They work with everything and are used to everything. “They just go where the glove is, it doesn’t matter who has got it or if it was in a football stadium or a packed concert – they would still do the job.”

Gizmo does film work too and recently appeared in the video of Read your Mind by singer/songwriter Livia. Rudi, A Eurasian eagle owl, also owned by Lavenham Falconry, previously worked on Harry Potter.

Catherine Defty, 28, organised for Gizmo to fly to carry her wedding rings up the aisle at Alpheton Hall Barns, near Sudbury, as a surprise for her husband-to-be John.

She said: “John said he didn’t really realise until the owl was flying halfway down the aisle. He thought his best man was messing round saying ‘Has anyone got the ring’. He had no idea the owl was flying towards him until the last minute.”

Mrs Defty, who now lives in Winchester but grew up in Herringswell, added: “It was absolutely perfect. It made the wedding; everyone said how wonderful it was.”