At the opening of the Huron Natural Area this past weekend, the Canadian Raptor Conservancy held a demonstration. I visited a raptor rehabilitation centre at the Mountsberg Conservation Area earlier this year, but the birds were caged and only one Barn Owl made an appearance at a small show.
captive bred. The wind was strong and gusty, but the hawks and falcons were able to do some free flying. James Cowan is the director of the conservancy and he did the demonstration with some help from his young son. It was an educational and entertaining show and I enjoyed seeing these beautiful birds at close range.
Juvenile Bald Eagle (2 years old)
Earlier that morning I met a birder along the Grand River who was eager to tell me that he had just seen an immature Bald Eagle in a tree on the opposite bank with his scope. Bald Eagles do not nest in our region, but increasing numbers of them are wintering along the river. This man was part of a group that monitors their movements and reports sightings to the Ministry of Natural Resources. James Cowan showed the audience a juvenile male Bald Eagle. I really hope to see one this winter.
The Harris Hawk sat on the head of this young father in the audience. Apparently, their stance is very gentle and light as they are accustomed to standing on spiny cactus plants.
The shows were repeated hourly throughout the afternoon and many children and adults had the opportunity to learn about birds of prey. After the show, someone pointed out a Sharp-shinned Hawk overhead in pursuit of a small bird. That hunting display was for real, and the hawk did not gain a meal that time. The presence of these birds of prey is an indicator of the health of the local environment. The Barn Owl is now extirpated in Ontario due to loss of habitat. It is unable to hunt for small rodents in fields that are densely planted with corn and soybeans. The more we see and learn about these magnificent birds, the more we should care about preserving their habitats.