Saturday, September 11, 2010

RAPTOR ENCOUNTER

Holding "Teddy", a female Barred Owl was a magical experience. She's leaning into me because at that moment I'm her "tree!"

Rob and I have been going to Mountsberg Conservation Area a few times a year for over six years now. We spent our first New Years Day there back in 2005, and I still remember him telling me it was the best New Years Day he's ever had. This is one of our favourite parks to visit and is special to us.

We enjoy the many walking trails where we can see various song birds at different times of the year. Mountsberg is a year round place to visit and there is always something new to see or do depending on the season.

One of the things that makes Mountsberg special is their Raptor Centre, which is home to native birds of prey that due to injuries or human imprinting cannot be released back into the wild. We always walk the "Wildlife Walkway" on our trips there, where you can see many of these birds, including Bald Eagles and various types of Owls, Hawks, etc.

On weekends and holidays there is also a birds of prey show twice daily and today we decided to watch the show for the first time. We saw and learned about three different birds staying at the facility, all of which had their own interesting story and fascinating characteristics.


Pawgwa is a juvenile female Bald Eagle.

Jazz is a female Barn Owl.

Jazz was waiting for lunch.

She sure enjoyed her meal!

Ellie is a Turkey Vulture who was enjoying the warmth of the sun.


It's been interesting to us to watch the many improvements they've done to the facilities over the years and there always seems to be something new going on when we visit. On this visit we found out about a new program they started over the summer called the "Raptor Encounter" where you get a chance to go "behind the scenes" at the facility.

For a fee you can learn more about the birds there and get a chance to get up close to some of them. You can do this privately or as part of a group.

Rob and I did this privately and it was an amazing experience for both of us. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get to hold an owl, and today I got to hold two!

Amy, the handler who gave us our tour, told us lots of interesting facts and stories about many of the birds there, but I have to admit, as soon as I was holding Echo, an Eastern Screech Owl, I kind of went off into "La La Land" because I couldn't believe I was holding such a majestic creature. Then when I got to hold Teddy, a beautiful Barred Owl, it was almost over whelming. I'm still surprised I didn't burst into tears, it meant that much to me.

Otis and Echo are Eastern Screech Owls.

A better look at Echo.

Echo and I getting to know one another.

Me with Echo & Rob with Otis, what a special moment for us!

Rob's turn to hold Teddy, a Barred Owl.

We had an amazing and memorable afternoon and are already planning our next visit, which will definitely include another "Raptor Encounter".

To learn more about the birds at the centre click here.
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