Sunday, September 22, 2013

Alberta Birds of Prey in Coaldale

Photo: barn owl

At Alberta Birds of Prey, in Coaldale, close to Lethbridge, some people got together to reclaim wetlands and provide shelter for injured and endangered birds of prey.

It started small, when one family found hurt birds, nursed them back to health and re-wilded them.

Now the facility has grown to a spacious sanctuary with full-time staff and a peregrine falcon tethered to a perch in the gift shop.

We took a tour, watched a flying demonstration with hawks and were told some amazing facts.

For one thing, these birds avoid flying whenever possible, because it takes huge amounts of energy. In the wild, they spend over 90% of their time perched. We also learned that birds open their beaks like panting dogs to cool off.

To get the raw chicken from her trainer, the red hawk flew low as predicted. Trainer Sarah, who started at the sanctuary as a co-op student and then decided to stay, told us that to conserve energy, hawks enjoy coasting along on cool currents near the ground.

Left: Red Hawk interacts with handler Sarah

Above: Found blind and injured in a ditch, this bald eagle has recovered as much as he can, but will have to live out his life at the sanctuary, since he can no longer see to hunt.

Left: One of the large ponds at the sanctuary, surrounded by native plants.

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