SEVEN baby - but decidedly uncute - birds are being hand-reared at one of the region's bird sanctuaries.

Named Thoth, Bes, Shu, Nun, Geb, Hapy and Horus the new arrivals at Kirkleatham Owl Centre are ibis birds, a species that was revered as sacred in ancient Egypt.

The birds, all named after ancient Egyptian gods, will eventually join the Redcar bird centre's flying display team.

The small flock range in age from 10 days to four weeks and have just arrived at Kirkleatham from another centre.

"It's got to be said, baby ibis are not the best looking of baby birds," said Craig Wesson, centre director who explained the fledglings would be with an adult female named Cleo.

''At the moment they are all beak and legs and are starting to lose their baby down and get their adult feathers so they look a bit prehistoric. It's hard to imagine they will grow up to be as stunning looking as Cleo, though at the moment Cleo isn't sure if she wants to share the limelight.

''Feeding them is basically a free for all. The food goes everywhere and they usually end up with more on them and on us than in their stomachs. Cleo is a little more refined.

"They also eat a lot. At the moment they are eating four times what a adult Ibis would eat; all due to the fact that they grow remarkably quickly in just a few weeks time the youngsters will be flying."

Visitors can meet the youngsters at weekends over the next few weeks along with some of the centres other babies.

Find out more about the Kirkleatham Owl Centre at