Posts Tagged ‘birds of prey’

Last weekend, I had an excuse to go visit the raptor center once more. I somehow won a couple of raffle prizes and had to pick them up. But I procrastinated since the center was a few miles up the wooded hills, way southeast of the city. I was told that the prizes were to be given away to someone else if they were not picked up soon enough. That compelled me to visit.

So, here are what I won! Yipeeee!

Saw Whet Owl Photo     Salmon Wood Carving

Neat, huh?

Going up to the raptor center was worth it. Made sure I brought my camera along. It was awesome looking at and taking pictures of the birds. Prepare to read a long blog entry.

Okay, at my previous blog, I promised to show pictures of Lethe, the turkey vulture.

Lethe, Turkey Vulture

This is Lethe. Lethe had human imprint. That means, he’s not afraid of humans. Same thing with Kali, his female companion. When I was a volunteer at the center, a few of the tasks I had to do were clean the cages; feed the birds; count mice and chicks (they are food to these birds) and feed them as well; help with meds.

So back to Lethe. Every time I went in his cage to feed or clean, he would run towards me to check out my shoes/shoelaces. I had to shield myself and had my son (or vice versa) distract him. And here’s the reason why?

Warning Sign

Lethe Showing Off

Both Lethe and Kali can fly; however, when you go in their cages, they run to check out your shoes.

And speaking of shoes, I made a mistake on my first day as a volunteer. It was orientation day, which meant being introduced to the birds by going in their cages and know the do’s and dont’s of taking care of them. A couple of the dont’s I could remember were to: 1) NOT SHOW YOU ARE SCARED when you are in their cage; 2) NOT WEAR SANDALS. I wore sandals that day.

The first cage we went into was the crow’s.

Edgar Allen Crow

This guy (after it was given a name, they discovered it was a female) has human imprint as well. Someone captured it and made it a pet. However, Edgar was not properly fed and thus, got a deformed beak (in photo, top beak curls upward). Deformed beak or not, it hurts when she pecks. She was the one that pecked on my toes that orientation day. I will never forget it.

Another time, she preened my hair; or rather my head. I have dark hair and she thought I had to have my head feathers preened. That hurt even more. There’s one thing about Edgar: when a whole bunch of visitors come, especially children, she gets all excited and would say ‘hello’. First, you do not hear it that way. But a few of those ‘hellos’ do come out distinctively as the human sound of ‘hello’. It’s weird! And children loved it and would rush to her cage, while she’d get to twirl her toys for show.

Next cage to Edgar’s is this guy.

Zac the Raven

Zachariah, or Zac, is actually female. She does not like women. Somehow she can determine the difference between a male or female human. I never ventured into her cage. I didn’t want to know what she’d do if I got in there. She’s way bigger than Edgar, mind you.

My son loved her. Zac would eat her favorite foods (grapes and nuts) from my son’s hands. To this day, Zac remains his favorite. Oh, Zac can say ‘whatchadoing’.

Exciting note about the corvids (corvus): they are definitely NOT RAPTORS. Why are they in the raptor center? The director, prior to establishing the raptor center, had these two birds as her first rehab birds. They are her favorite birds. She also has a few dozen (indoor) cats, and a parrot that thinks she’s the queen of the house and makes sure the cats behave when she’s around.

Zac and Edgar are the two fellas I also mentioned in my past blog.

 Dakini   What a beauty, huh?

 Dakini, White-Tailed Kite   What do you think this is? 

   What’s a kite?

 I really had fun at the raptor center. One area I couldn’t get to when I visited on Earth Day Celebration was this structure that shows the comparison between the length of a human’s stretched hand to stretched hand with that of a raptor’s wingspan and which bird would match you closely. It was so popular, there was a long winding line to try it out.

 How Big Is Your Wingspan Board

Last weekend, there was no one there but me. I waited quite a long time for someone to come up so my picture could be taken. And here’s how I measured up.

Me!   58 inches!

I am a couple of inches longer than the wingspan of a ferruginous hawk.

Wingspan Yardstick

This is a ferruginous hawk.

Ferruginous Hawk

 Well folks, cheer up. We are almost close to the end of this blog entry.

This precious looking bird is a juvenile barn owl. It was found recently alone among some haystack in a barn (but of course!). They couldn’t find the rest of its family.

Juvenile Barn Owl W/Trainer

One can tell a juvenile from an adult, as this barn owl shows, by the downy feathers covering the bird. This little one isn’t named yet. But doesn’t he look cute? When the education rep came out of the med house while I was waiting to pick up my prize winnings, I had the honor to meet the owl up close.

The owl was curious as to what I was holding. It was silver and looked attractive to the bird. The silver object was my camera. As the ed rep passed me by, the bird couldn’t take his eyes off the camera.

 Well, Hello There!

That’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed this entry. I apologize that it’s quite a long one.


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Remember that article I included in my May 5th post regarding an eagle whose top beak got shot off, well there’s good news!

Beauty (that’s its name) has gotten a prosthetic beak.

Now on with the last of the Earth Day Celebration Treats (or photos).

golden eagle front view     golden eagle back view

This is a golden eagle, one of the two newest members at the raptor center. Just to show you how big they are. One has to be very strong to have a bird as big as this being perched on a gloved hand; so you can see the volunteer handler resting her gloved hand on a stationary perch. They can weigh from 5 to 14 pounds, with a wing span of 55 to 95 inches, a bit smaller than the golden eagles.

Golden eagles are not as great looking as the bald eagles. But they are more adaptable and less scared of humans than the bald eagles. I heard one story comparing the two eagles as such:  that if bald eagle parents sitting on a nest encounters a human, they will abandon the nest, even if there are eggs or young in it. With the golden, the parents will not back down unless shooed away. But then they will try to come back to the nest. The symbol of the country? Not brave? Just beauty? Let me just leave that to your interpretation.

burrowing owl 

This is a burrowing owl. The photo is a bit blurry, because I wanted to shoot quickly before it scurried away. I was afraid with failing to take even one photo as this owl is very shy.

The burrowing owl is about 9 to 11 inches and weighs 4 to 6 ounces only. It feeds on insects and small mammals, small birds, reptiles and amphibians. Its habitat is open country primarily grassland and desert associated with prairie dog or ground squirrel colonies.

taka, swainson's hawk

Taka, is a ‘dark morph’  Swainson’s Hawk. Injury to his right wing rendered him unable to fly, hence he couldn’t be released. First thought that a car collision was the cause of his wing injury, an x-ray finding showed he was shot.  The name Swainson’s Hawk was derived from being named by an English naturalist, William Swainson. Must be a big name in the bird world! Duh!

I wish I could show you Lethe. He’s a turkey vulture. Unfortunately, I somehow erased the one photo I have of him as I was editing it. Lethe is such a character. I will promise to get a photo or two of him the next time I visit the raptor center. There are a couple more interesting fellas I’d like to take photos of and are every bit full of character.



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Somehow last week I missed alot of Earth Day Celebration events. All these consciousness efforts for conservation of our very own Earth had passed me by. Not that I do not care. I do.

The future of our planet and human carbon footprint are just two of many new it-words (or popular terms) going abuzz these days. I’m still processing internally how I should approach and apply these consciousness efforts to save our planet. Anyway, one of these days I’d reluctantly discuss my carbon footprint.

Yesterday, I went to an invitational event from a local raptor center. The raptor center is a rehabilitation center that caters to injured birds of prey. Some birds can be fixed and set free in the wild; some, unfortunately cannot be fixed so they stay to educate people of their plight. Why do these birds get injured? One of the reasons, I’d say, is because of this so called ‘human carbon footprint’. You can just guess why. Human species are very intelligent. But due to this intelligence, we have destroyed more and will keep destroying ourselves and the other animals that exist on this planet. Yes, humans have done wonders. These wonders are smaller in number compared to the destruction humans leave behind.

Enough of the lecture. But before I show you the treats, this is how much it costs to take care of bird injuries at the center. Remember, there are additional costs to run the whole operation. And it’s only one of the rehabilitation centers all over the United States.

 The Cost of Rehab

If you’d notice, having cats can be devastating to the flying species. I’m guilty for having cats.


Loki ~ Oldest Resident    

Loki, a Barred Owl, the oldest Resident at the Center (hatched in 1981). He suffered multiple fractures to his left wing from a collision with a car in 1983. Loki reminds me, for some reason, of Tom Maroon, my precious cat. It must be the ‘gorgeous eyes’ and an adorable personality that both of them have. Isn’t Loki just beautiful?

Denali, A Bald Eagle

Denali, obviously a Bald Eagle, is one of two newest eagle residents; brought in on December 2007. Hatched on Kodiak Island, Alaska and had wing injury when less than 1 year old. Extensive rehabilitation did not pan out and so she couldn’t be released.

Clio, American Kestrel

Clio, an American Kestrel, was injured in Spring, 2004 when hit by a car while fighting with another Kestrel in a mating or territorial dispute. She suffered severe head trauma; blinded her left eye; most probably has impaired right eye. Kestrels need perfect vision on both eyes to survive since they are day-time hunters of smaller birds, large flying insects, small rodents and lizards.

This is just one of two or more postings of birds of prey and the raptor center. There will be more pictures and descriptions.

Ta-tat for now!

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