first raptor experience was something that I will never forget!
have been obsessed with Birds of Prey since my teens, my particular favourite
being the Wedge-tailed Eagle. I had always wanted to get close to raptors but
didn't quite know how to go about it. I'd visited zoo's and seen raptors from
a distance, but it never truly quenched my thirst, so to speak.
a few years back, on a trip to Western Australia, we visited Eagle Heritage near
Margaret River. Eagle Heritage is a facility where injured, sick and orphaned
raptors are rehabilitated and most are returned to the wild. Some, like this Black
Kite are kept for educational purposes within the facility.
Heritage runs a free-flight show where the hunting skills of a raptor is displayed
to the eager crowd. By throwing pieces of meat into the air we were shown how
a raptor ducks and dives, twists and turns in order to catch its prey - a totally
awesome experience to watch.
the end of the display, during which the bird trainer told us all about the life
of raptors and their important role to the environment, the kids in the audience
were invited to line up and have the kite perch on their gloved hand. Not being
a kid myself (physically anyway - but I'm still a kid at heart!), the trainer
frowned at me when I lined up - incredibly eager for my first raptor experience,
and too stubborn to move out of the queue!
bliss - and total concentration on such a magnificent creature! Look at that attentiveness
etched on my face! The bird looks quite small on my hand, but was so amazingly
heavy! When I trotted back to Todd, who was giggling at me along with most of
the crowd, I barely controlled my whoop of joy at the experience! It took me hours
to come down off my high.
have since had the amazing, humbling, awesome experience of rehabilitating many
raptors since then. Being able to rehabilitate an injured raptor, or raise a raptor
chick and have them return to the wild is the most amazing feeling. Watching them
soar away on silent wing makes my heart nearly burst with pride and joy!