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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Birds of Prey show at Wye Marsh, Ontario

Yesterday we went to Wye Marsh near Midland, Ontario, for a home school field trip. You can see all the details HERE but I decided to give the Birds of Prey show it's own post as there were just too many pictures I wanted to include.

This show was one of the better birds of prey shows I have seen in my life. It wasn't grandiose and full of bells and whistle but it was very informative, interesting, educational, hands on and fun! The staff was very knowledgeable. She took her time explaining questions (lots of questions) and spoke to us all, not at us as some shows I have seen the staff just blurt out facts with little interaction.

We started the show with a Lanner Falcon named Stanley.

 This falcon had a bit of a mind of his own in the beginning and surprised this boy when he landed on his lap instead of the trainer. He sat quietly for a minute and then took off.
 As you can see he was being quite cheeky today. The staff explained that they raise all their birds from babies so they have always been in captivity. They hand feed them so the birds get imprinted to humans and therefore relay on humans for all their food and can not be released to the wild.

Crouching over his food to protect it

Back view with tail and wings spread


Next up was a Barn Owl.

These species are having a harder and harder time in the wild as old barns are torn down and the birds hunting grounds disappear with it. I love Owls so I though this guy was a true beauty.




 All their birds are hand-fed with a previously frozen diet. They are fed little chunks of meat during the show as a treat for listening to the tasks asked of them. At the end of the show they receive a full meal to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.

The owl doesn't chew it's food, it gulps it down whole.


We were also shown an owl pellet. I had no idea they were so uniform. I'd love to find one out on the trail someday so we could dissect it...yeah I'm weird like that. Finding one would be so amazing.

 She crushed it to show us the insides. It was full of fluff and little bones. I think dissecting a pellet would be a neat project. Since the likelihood of my finding a pellet myself is slim is slim, I found THIS wonderful resource online and it is full of Canadian Owl information as well as where to buy pellets (roughly $45 for 10 pellets plus shipping).
 This next owl didn't fly for us today as he is molting but we did get to get very up close and personal with him.
 He came around and everybody got a chance to pet him.



 We learned also that although owls are known for turning their heads all the way around they actually have a 270 degree rotation, and that a lot of birds actually can do this the owls are just more known for it.
Love his beautiful face





Next up was Hans the Harris Hawk. I remember his name because he definitely had a mind of his own and needed a lot of encouragement to listen. He did manage to fly down and allow quite a few children the chance to have him grab a treat from their glove covered hands.








 And he also was a good sport letting children (and adults) pet him as well.


We loved the show ourselves. It was a great hands on performance and I would recommend seeing the show if you get the chance...it does cost a few dollars extra but it is so worth it.