When I have a little time off like I do this week, I like to go learn about things I know little about. Which sure seems like a lot, lately! This week, I visited the raptor center to learn about birds!
The raptor center was great. It’s a non-profit center that has two main missions: educating curious people (like me!) by providing a safe home for birds who’re too damaged to release back in the wild, and attempting to rehabilitate birds who *aren’t* too hurt to return to their natural habitat.
On one hand, it’s a little sad to see these glorious birds grounded and cooped up. On the other, they wouldn’t have survived without serious human intervention. They’re given a nice place to stay, plenty of stimulation and food, and they get to live a comfortable life in teaching humans about their fellow bird-kind.
I think I was most impressed with the Golden Eagle. It appeared to be almost four feet high, perched on a fat branch. It hopped around like a turkey vulture would, or other scavenger birds I’ve seen around – mostly legs-only, very little wings. It wasn’t happy with paparazzi like me, though, and made some threatening, beautiful noises to warn me and some nearby kids to “Back OFF!”
Speaking of turkey vultures, I learned: turkey vultures have stomach acid that’s strong enough to withstand nearly any disease or virus; without these guys flying around, cleaning up the roadkill and eating the leftovers from others’ meals, all kinds of nasty stuff would be lying around. Their faces are featherless, explained a volunteer, because they’re always digging around in the meat and flesh of other animals. Basically, they provide a much-needed function in nature, and we should give these birds more love!
It was a fun bit of time, walking around with a bunch of kids and learning about birds.