Visit the ICBP in North Yorkshire

June 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

The market town of Helmsley in the picturesque Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England, is the location of the new International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) which opened to the public in March 2013. Spread over eleven acres with historic Duncombe Park as a backdrop, the visitor attraction features more than a hundred birds housed in some forty aviaries, and is set to become one of the top tourist attractions in the district. In addition to being a visitor attraction, the ICBP runs a program of breeding endangered birds, most notably Steller’s sea eagles, which are among the world’s largest birds and listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN.

The ICBP has three flying demonstrations per day where visitors can witness the exceptional abilities of a variety of birds of prey. As each flying demonstration features different birds, with commentary offering fascinating facts about the performers, visitors may want to spend the entire day at the centre and watch all three demonstrations. In the event of inclement weather, the centre will move the demonstration to a sheltered wooded area or indoors, so visitors are assured of seeing the birds in action.

Visitors may want to start their tour of the centre along the Hawk Walk, where they will be able to approach within a few feet of the trained birds which includes hawks, falcons, eagles and buzzards. The main aviary area features a series of enclosures which have been carefully designed with the comfort of the feathered residents in mind. The three solid walls of each aviary provide the birds with a sense of security, which makes them more content and enhances their breeding abilities. The success of the aviary design is evident in the fact that the ICBP has successfully bred 65 species of birds of prey.

Overlooking the parkland in front of Duncombe Park’s main house, the Flying Ground has seating for demonstration spectators, as well as picnic tables and acres of well-tended lawn to relax on. The east and north of the area are sheltered by ancient oak, chestnut, ash and lime trees with the west open to the prevailing wind, providing perfect conditions for the birds to perform in.

Other facilities include the Fountain Tea Room, a shop and a play area. A visit to the International Centre for Birds of Prey is sure to be memorable. Don’t forget to take your camera!

Visit the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary

January 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

Established in 2006, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary in South Africa cares for more than 180 birds representing 50 different raptor species. The sanctuary’s permanent residents have either been bred in captivity, or have sustained injuries which significantly limit their chances of survival in the wild. Located close enough to both Durban and Pietermaritzburg to allow easy access for a day trip, the sanctuary offers unique insight into South Africa’s amazing predatory birds which is both educational and entertaining.

The sanctuary’s permanent residents include vultures, eagles, falcons, kestrels, goshawks, sparrowhawks, buzzards, hawks, kites and owls. Many of the birds have been named, with a record of their rescue story available to visitors. Eagles are rightly viewed as the mightiest of the birds of prey and the sanctuary’s Eagle Alley allows visitors a close up look at some of these majestic birds. Other sections of the sanctuary are Hoot Hollow for the owls; Honeycomb Habitats housing diurnal raptors; and the Vulture Hide with its eight indigenous vulture species, all of which are considered to be threatened.

In addition to being a popular tourism attraction, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is dedicated to ongoing research, including breeding and rehabilitation projects, with a view to conserving the birds in their natural South African environment. The Raptor Rescue operation run by the sanctuary is kept separate from the public area and is not open to visitors. If rescued birds are to be rehabilitated and released into the wild again, it is in their best interests not to be exposed to too many people. In addition to being stressful for them, too much interaction with humans could make the birds tame, thereby hampering their chances of survival in the wild. For research purposes birds are ringed before being released into a suitable habitat, if possible where they were found.

One of the most exciting features of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is the flying display, and visitors should be sure to plan their day to include one of these demonstrations, bearing in mind that they are weather dependent. Flying display times are Monday to Friday at 10:30am, and at 10:30am and 3pm on weekends and public holidays. As a privately funded conservation initiative, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary relies on entrance fees to continue their work. So, why not support this worthy cause, and enjoy an outing you are not likely to forget.

World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Adjacent to the Lone Elk County Park and Chubb Trail in Missouri, U.S.A., is a sanctuary that is dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey and educating the public on the vital role these birds play in nature. They are also passionate about other wildlife, and the more than three hundred acres of land, which is blanketed in Missouri hardwood forest, is a tranquil location for the birds and animals of the World Bird Sanctuary. Visitors to this magnificent conservation centre will not only be able to view beautiful birds, but the sanctuary also offers educational programs, shows, picnic areas and nature trails.

Ornithologist Walter C. Crawford Jr. started working at the St. Louis Zoo in close cooperation with the director of the zoo and in doing so he recognized the lack of attention given to birds of prey and how important it is to protect these birds. He therefore founded the World Bird Sanctuary in the year 1977, which was originally known as the Raptor Rehabilitation and Propagation Project.

The land on which the sanctuary was establish was an old munitions depot used by the army during World War II, thus most of the sanctuary was housed in these buildings. Each building has a different use, such as offices, a breeding facility and a building to house and treat injured birds. Crawford is still the director of the facility, but has managed to develop the World Bird Sanctuary to such a level that he is now able to afford full-time staff to assist him, and to watch over the sanctuary when he travels to conventions to share his message in regard to conservation. The World Bird Sanctuary has won numerous awards for their work, and visitors can look forward to seeing hawks, parrots, bald eagles, falcons, owls, vultures, reptiles and various other animals that have made their way to the sanctuary.

An extremely proud and excited World Bird Sanctuary opened its Wildlife Hospital in 2005, which features state-of-the-art equipment and staff that are able to assist injured birds and animals, aiding their rehabilitation. They are often called on to assist the government when they have confiscated animals that were being smuggled or when trying to rescue animals. Veterinarians volunteer their time and experience and annually save the lives of more than three hundred birds and animals. The Nature Centre and gift shop is open every day, and visitors are invited to embark on an exciting and fascinating bird of prey adventure at the World Bird Sanctuary.

A Visit to Ohio Bird Sanctuary

July 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Gail Laux started the County Raptor Rehabilitation Center in 1988 on her private property. In 1995 the Heart of Ohio Boy Scout Council approved a lease to allow the facility to move to the Camp Avery Hand site. Through generous donations and support, the Ohio Bird Sanctuary was able to open its doors to the public in 1999. The sanctuary was eventually able to purchase fifty-two acres of land it had leased, and went on to buy another fifteen acres in 2009. To become a public facility the sanctuary created a board of trustees. Through the assistance of volunteers, events were organized to raise funds to renovate buildings, create a parking area and make trails for visitors to enjoy.

The visitors centre now proudly boasts a classroom, exhibition lobby, outdoor display facilities, offices, library and an emergency centre that takes in injured and sick birds. This non-profit organization is dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of the birds of prey of Ohio. Ninety acres of the sanctuary is open to the public, with hiking trails leading to various breathtaking areas of the sanctuary where visitors will be able to view various birds of prey. A few of the local bird residents are visitor friendly and gladly accept the meal worms that are on sale at the sanctuary, allowing members of the public to have a personal and interactive experience with these fascinating birds. Tours are available, as educating the public on the value and importance of preserving birds of prey is the main goal of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary. It also welcomes more than twenty thousand scholars a year, and bird lovers are invited to join the weekend programs that feature workshops such as Breeding Birds Surveys, Creatures of the Night, Fall Wildlife Festival and Christmas for the Birds.

Because of the sanctuary being located on the Clearfork Reservoir border and being surrounded by marsh and dense forests, the trails leading through the sanctuary are breathtaking and will take visitors over meadows, marshlands and between beautiful pine groves. The butterfly garden is another recommended attraction that is filled with wonderful variety wildflowers and is a tranquil location at the sanctuary. The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is not only performing a vital role in protecting the birds of prey of Ohio but is an exciting attraction for visitors to enjoy.

Rat Poison a Danger to Birds

May 10, 2011 by  
Filed under News

It is a fine line between getting rid of pesky rodents and in doing so, attributing to the deaths of birds of prey. Researchers have been working tirelessly to try and determine which bird species are more susceptible to the poison and which birds are affected immediately, as well as trying to find ways to curb the accessibility of poisoned rodents to birds of prey. Their studies have had some remarkable and disturbing results, showing that less poison than previously thought is enough to cause serious damage.

It has been an ongoing study to figure out exactly how much rat poison is fatal for birds, and it seems that it does not take much to cause major harm. For years it has been known that wildlife is exposed to rat poisons through affected rodents. As rats were becoming resistant to the old poison formulas, new ones were created, but these poisons also pose a great risk. To understand the risks, a group of scientists from Environment Canada, with Philippe Thomas leading, began researching the effect rat poison had on birds by analyzing the livers from dead red-tailed hawks and great horned owls that they had found across Canada. It was important to the group to try and determine an estimated mortality rate for the birds, the rats and the population. It seems that some poisons do not kill rats immediately. Rats are still able to function for several days after poisoning, but as the poison begins to take its toll, rats become disorientated and easier prey for birds such as the great horned owl and the red-tailed hawks.

While studying the great horned owls, it was found that they were at serious risk of being fatally effected by the secondary digestion of rat poisons. The owls that were analyzed showed a higher percentage of poison in their livers than the red-tailed hawks, and their livers showed the presence of bromadiolone and brodifacoum. Scientists speculate that this result could be due to the different feeding habits and dietary needs of the birds. The lethal poisons that are in question are SGARs, or Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides. While it is understood that rats are pests and should be controlled, the team has stressed the urgency of educating the public on how to use these poisons safely, to pose as minimum a threat to wildlife as possible.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has been in operation for more than 75 years and is actively involved in raptor conservation, public education and scientific research. This important refuge for birds of prey features an impressive number of falcons, eagles and hawks, lookout points, 8 miles of trails, an informative Visitor Center, a native plant garden and a bookstore. Visitors to the sanctuary can explore the trails by themselves or attend special weekend programs to learn more about raptors.

Situated in east-central Pennsylvania, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary covers an area of 2 600 acres. Add to this the 13 000 acres of public and private lands and the birds of prey are provided with a vast protected tract of contiguous forest. The varied topography of Hawk Mountain offers flora and fauna a variety of habitats. The main tree species growing there include Red Maple, hickory, birches, five oak species and Black Gum. Older sections of forest are the perfect haven for Pileated Woodpeckers and Winter Wrens.

Keen birders will certainly find Hawk Mountain Sanctuary a fantastic destination. Some 265 bird species have been documented in the area since 1934, with over 65 species regularly nesting there. The area serves as an important stopover habitat for some 100 migratory bird species, of which 16 are raptor species. Amongst the migrant birds nesting at Hawk Mountain are Wood Thrushes, Ovenbirds and Scarlet Tanagers. Broad-winged, Sharp-shinned, Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks have been seen nesting in the sanctuary, as have Great Horned, Eastern Screech, Northern Saw-Whet and Barred owls.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary does much to contribute towards raptor conservation. By means of their Conservation Science Program they seek to gain further insight into raptor migration, raptor population statuses, and how raptors live in the ecosystems where they reside. The Acopian Center for Conservation Learning was opened at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in 2002 and serves as a biological field station, as well as a training facility. Scientists, conservationists and the sanctuary’s personnel can work together here, making use of the GIS map lab, the world’s largest library of raptor literature, the archival storage room, a teaching lab, conference area and office spaces. Members of the public may only access the center on special occasions or by appointment.

Those who decide to visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary are advised to start off at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a number of interesting exhibits, including stunning carved replicas of Hawk Mountain’s most regular raptor visitors. As you browse through the displays you will learn about raptors, conservation and migration. The best time to visit is between the months of September and November, as this is when the greatest numbers of falcons, hawks and eagles are passing through. The trails at Hawk Mountain are open throughout the year (with a few exceptions), and from dawn until dusk. There is a trail admission charge for non-members, and this fee goes towards the maintenance of the sanctuary and its conservation programs.

13th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

December 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

What can visitors to the 13th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival look forward to? An exciting program featuring a silent auction, bird count list, art competition and over 70 exhibitors such as birding organisations, photography businesses, optics, nature-touring equipment, artists and more. Field trips as well as classroom presentations are also available. There will also be various opportunities to meet and mingle with like-minded individuals. Don’t forget to check out the “Behind the Scenes” tour of Florida Audubon’s Center for Birds of Prey.

Date: 27 January to 1 February 2010
Venue: Brevard Community College, Titusville Campus
City: Titusville, FL
Country: United States of America

Eagle Fest 2009

October 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The 12th Annual Eagle Fest, will be hosted by Soar South, which will see the team thrilling spectators with their presentation, from the 7th to the 22nd of November 2009. The Eagle Fest will kick off at the University of Wisconsin, and traveling to various other venues, such as the Midwest Museum of Natural History, the Crane Festival in Birchwood, Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville and the General Coffee State Park.

For specific times and dates for the various venues, visit the Soar South website at http://soarsouth.blogspot.com/2009/10/upcoming-programs-november-2009.html or email s.o.a.r.south@hotmail.com.

Date: 7 November 2009
Venue: Various
City: Various
Country: United States of America

Falcon Ridge Birds of Prey Show

October 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The Falcon Ridge Birds of Prey display centre, thrills visitors every morning, with a thrilling show, that highlights the intelligence, speed and unmatched power of these magnificent birds. Included into the show is an interesting talk on the history of Falconry and visitors will also learn how these predators of the sky use their mighty wings, powerful beaks and razor sharp claws.

Children are to be accompanied by adults, as some of these majestic birds are capable of attacking a small deer. For more information regarding the show and its schedule, contact Falcon Ridge show organizers directly on 082 774 6398.

Date: Every Day except Fridays
Venue: Falcon Ridge
City: Champagne Valley, Drakensburg
Country: South Africa

Hen Harrier to be Released into English Wilds

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

The hen harrier is one of the most endangered birds of prey in Britain. Their numbers have fallen incredibly in England in the past, with just ten breeding pairs having been counted last year. While this bird species was once very widespread across Britain, it now seems its domain is limited mainly to Scotland where there are about 630 breeding pairs.

The main reason behind the dramatic decline of hen harriers in England is systematic persecution – namely, the shooting of these birds in their natural habitats in the Pennines and the Peak District. This is an area where these birds come to prey on grouse chicks and it is here that they are most ruthlessly persecuted. However, it seems that government officials are not content to sit back and watch extinction in action. Natural England, a government conversation agency, has been hard at work at drafting up plans to save the hen harrier in England. They would like to reintroduce the bird into the ranges that it formerly inhabited, such as lowland farms, heathland and upland areas including the Exmoor, Dartmoor and New Forest areas. All this will hopefully take place during the course of the next two years. Until now their plans have been put forth somewhat clandestinely, with the proposals gaining approval from bird conservation organizations, environment ministers and moorland and country sports organizations. The detailed proposals will be officially released to the public in early April.

Why all the secrecy? It seems it is feared that there will be some opposition from certain conservationists and landowners. Caution certainly is the order of the day, since these birds can pose a threat to resident land owners in the proposed areas for release. Farmers in the area are already struggling with a surge in the number of sparrowhawks, red kits and buzzards and the addition of another feathered predator will no doubt only add to their worries. Some landowners use their estates primarily for pheasant and partridge shooting and are concerned that the birds could get in the way. Basically there are fears that the widespread and non-specific reintroduction of these birds of prey could cause havoc to a number of already established farm and gaming practices. What’s more, Scottish sheep farmers are already complaining about decreases in stock numbers due to the much higher numbers of hen harriers in those parts of the United Kingdom. While the reintroduction of the hen harriers to the English wilds is widely supported due to the fact that they are endangered, it seems it is hoped that conservation officials will choose wisely as to how many of these birds will be released and where they will be allowed to make their new home.

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