January 21, 2010 - Over the past
three years we've grown to LOVE wild birds, especially raptors and
vultures, so we were excited to head out to
The Raptor Trust here in
New Jersey. It was fabulous! They had many, many cool
birds to see and a great facility. It sits right at the edge
of the Great
Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
They have a state-of-the-art medical
facility, and zoo quality large cages for the birds. I was
very impressed. They try to rehabilitate all the birds in
order to release them but some can't be released due to major
disabilities and must stay. These three vultures had been at
the center for 20 years and were extremely friendly.
Unfortunately, someone had raised them from eggs and so they
imprinted on humans and can't be released. They're too
friendly and trusting to be let loose and they don't recognize other
Turkey Vultures as their own kind.
I love this guy. I think his
name was Templeton. He was standing perfectly still and
This is his lovely plate of food.
He had already pulverized the thawed mice and was beginning to work
on the fish.
It always amazes me just how huge
eagles are. These are both Bald Eagles but the one of the
right is a juvenile and so doesn't have the characteristic white
head, dark body and yellow beak yet.
Love all the owls!!
especially, this Snowy Owl....
we thought this little Long Ear Owl
was so funny...he looks so surprised
This falcon sure was enjoying his
mouse. Interestingly, they all seemed to rip off the mouse
head first and then work of the body. Not sure why.
Maybe it's just like ripping open the top of a bag for them and
makes it easier to get in to the "good" stuff.
There were vultures all around in the
trees and on the tops of the cages. They could smell the
"wonderful" feast that the caged vultures were eating and were
hoping to get in on it.
I didn't realize that ravens were so
large. He was huge! You can't tell by the picture but he
is way bigger than a chicken.
You can see our adventures with the
bird rescue lady in Virginia and bird banding by clicking on the
April 25, 2008 - Yesterday, we attended a presentation
on raptors by The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. Their
organization is dedicated to rehabilitating injured, ill, or
orphaned birds of prey and releasing them back into the wild when
possible. The birds shown to us yesterday are ones who could
not be released because they wouldn't make it in the wild for one
reason or another.
My kids have been obsessed
with owls after reading the
Ga'Hoole series by Scholastic. They LOVED the series and
so this outing was perfect for them!
This is an
Eastern Screech Owl. He's very small also.
Apparently, they are very common in our area and we most likely have
them in our backyard. I'll
have to start listening for them. I know I've heard this call
to his call. Screech owls camouflage by sucking in and
turning sideways to make themselves really skinny and closing their
eyes to slits. This makes them look more like a branch.
To see a video of this, click
here. The part I'm talking about doesn't happen until 2:03
minutes into the Japanese video.
This is a cute
Barred Owl, also known as the Hoot Owl. He was more the
size that we were expecting owls to be, but still very small.
His call is a typical type of owl call that we all learned as kids.
I know I've heard this call in my backyard.
his call. Great Horned Owls are their only predators.
This is a
Barn Owl. The Barn Owl calls infrequently, the usual call
being a drawn-out rasping screech.
his call. Barn Owls are short-lived birds. Most die in
their first year of life, with the average life expectancy being 1
to 2 years in the wild.
This is a beautiful
Great Horned Owl. She was really big like we thought most
owls were. She is in captivity because she was illegally
raised by someone and had imprinted on humans. She thinks
she's a human and she thinks that the man holding her is her
"significant other". She's very protective of him. She
was "threatening" us in the picture below.
Listen to her call. She had so much personality.
When he went to put her back in her box, she didn't jump right in
like all the others, she turned and looked at "her man" and had this
little pleading look on her face, like "why"? It was so cute.
She talked a little to him and he talked back to her and then she
agreed to go in her cage. Precious!
Owlet Rescue and Release
This beautiful bird is the result
of some kind of an unnatural, scientific breeding of falcons.
The experts think he is a mix of
Peregrine falcon. Unnatural breeds like this cannot be
released into the wild so he was given to the Raptor Conservacy
of Virginia to use as an educational bird. He was very
skinny when they got him but he has now doubled his weight.
This is a fabulous
Red-Tailed Hawk. He was really big.
Listen to his call - just like the old western movies!
Its cry is sometimes used inaccurately as that of an eagle cry
We plan on watching PBS's
Male next week. Pale Male is a red-tailed hawk who lives
in NYC with his mate, Lola. It is common for peregrine falcons
to live under NYC bridges and steel towers but not red-tailed hawks.
Pale Male and Lola have become celebrities. You can see more
pictures of them nesting here.
Eagles Fighting in the Air
After the presentation, the kids
enjoyed spending the rest of the afternoon playing around in the
stream outside the Long Branch Nature Center.
here to see Ramsey Central's photos from the event.