Raptors (birds of prey)

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 sunning himself.

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 links below.

Bird Rescue

Bird Banding

The Raptor Conservatory of Virginia

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 Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Scholastic.  They LOVED the series and so this outing was perfect for them!

This is a Northern Saw Whet Owl.  Isn't it the cutest?!  They only weigh 2 - 4 ounces. Listen to his call

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 before.  Listen 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.   Listen to 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.  Listen to 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 Merlin and 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 in movies.

We plan on watching PBS's Pale 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.

Click here to see Ramsey Central's photos from the event.

 Parahawking in Nepal - this would be fun!