First Raptor Experience!

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My first raptor experience was something that I will never forget!

 

I 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.

 

So, 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.

Eagle 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.

At 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!

Total 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.

I 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!


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