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Just six miles from home is the amazing World Center for Birds of Prey (WCBP). For about six weeks in September & October, the WCBP hosts Fall Flights during which expert bird handlers show off the amazing skills of their education birds. What is a bird of prey? Also known as raptors, birds of prey share these traits:

  • Meat Eaters
  • Hooked Beaks with sharp cutting edges
  • Sharp Talons to catch, hold, and carry prey
  • Keen Eyesight

Raptors include eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls.

Meet Oliver, the Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, one of the largest owls in the world. Oliver was magnificent once he got over his stage fright and stepped out of the cage. He swooped silently from one handler’s arm to the other’s nearly parting some of the audience’s hair.

Next came Griffin, the Swainson’s Hawk, looking rightfully regal.

Finn, the Red-tailed hawk enjoyed showing off his prodigious beak.

Farrah, a beautiful Ferruginous Hawk has a pretty intense stare.

Makeda the Lanner Falcon wowed us all with her stunning outfit and her arial acrobatics.

Falconry in action

This was a really fun hour of life. These creatures are amazing and it’s a treat to see them up close.

The Swainson’s Hawk (I believe. I have a hard time telling them apart from the red-tailed.)

The World Center for Birds of Prey is the headquarters of The Peregrine Fund, “founded in 1970 to restore the Peregrine Falcon.” The Peregrine had been declared extinct on the eastern seaboard due to exposure to DDT when a few passionate raptor biologists had the audacity to propose a captive breeding program using eggs from the few remaining Peregrines in the western United States. Thus began the Peregrine Fund sustained mostly by private donations. “The Peregrine Falcon was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1999. That success encouraged the organization to expand its focus to raptor conservation efforts on behalf of more than 100 species in 65 countries worldwide, including the California Condor and Aplomado Falcon in the United States. The organization is non-political, solution-oriented and hands-on.”