Friday, April 20, 2012

R: Raptors

Raptors look pretty intimidating. They've got big ol' talons,  wickedly hooked beaks, and those piercing, 'you-really-don't-want-to-mess-with-me' eyes. But even tough birds are no match for speeding vehicles, tangled fishing line, and lead poisoning.

Since 1979, the non-profit Rocky Mountain Raptor Program has rescued, rehabilitated, and, when possible, released more than 3,500 sick and injured birds of prey. The organization now has seven staff members and 200 active volunteers. Nearly 275 birds are admitted to the facility every year, and more than 70% of the treatable birds are released back into the wild.

RMRP also engages in educational outreach at schools and community events, and through Behind the Scenes Tours at their facility. Their very talented Great Horned Owl writes her own blog. Hey, we knew they were wise, right? 

A few of the raptors are available for viewing at Colorado State University's Environmental Learning Center, which is where my sons and I stopped to visit and take a few photos. It was lunch time for the birds, and we had the opportunity to watch a volunteer feed a dead mouse to a red-tailed hawk. (The hawks start with the head, end with the tail, and, when the birds are feeling particular, they won't eat the entrails. Who knew?) It was, as my younger son put it, "One of those 'cool' and 'I-never-want-to-see-it-again' moments."

(Check out that squirrel living dangerously in the background of the bottom picture.)




5 comments:

That corgi :) said...

Beautiful hawk! I happen to like them very much. That would be neat to see one getting fed. One time hubby and me were driving and saw a falcon scoop down and get a mouse from the field we were by; that was impressive! I think that organization is a great one! Thanks for sharing; enjoy the day!

betty

Lily Cate said...

Ooh, how cool!
We used to live next door to the tallest building in our city, where peregrine falcons would nest, and we got to watch them all spring and summer, and a few times, the new fliers would land on our windowsills and get "stuck" for a few minutes.
We also had pheasants at the door, a few times. It was the city of cool birds.

lizy-expat-writer said...

Beautiful. We have "Eagle Park here where we can see various raptors fly free, and sometimes we see them over our terrace, presumably taking their own sweet time about going home.

Tracy Makara said...

Great post. When I was living in Florida, I liked to go to a nature center in Ponce Inlet. They had some beautiful raptors there...eagles, hawks, owls. They had quite a few sea turtles and other animals too. There was one eagle who had been living there for many years as he could not be rehabilitated enough to survive in the wild. The dedication to the animals is admirable. :)

deathwriter said...

When I lived in Colorado I saw a lot of them, now that I'm in Texas, not so much. I miss hummingbirds as well. I'm sure they're here, but I'm not outside as much as I was in Colorado. It's too hot!
What a cool experience to watch them get fed. I think I'm with your son with his sentiment, though.