Saturday, October 8, 2016

Nose to Beak

Boise, ID   High 60  Low 47

Sometimes we really luck out when we go to see an exhibit. Such was the case when we visited the World Center for Birds of Prey.

DSCN2802This is a very small bird sanctuary but it houses the world's largest captive flock of California Condors which are housed in nearby breeding chambers to raise young for release to the wild. They have built the Condor Cliffs for the birds to hang out in when they are old enough.

The California condor is the largest bird in North America. It has a  wing span of nine and a half feet! The bare head is an adaptation for hygiene since they eat dead and rotting meat and must stick their head into the carcasses to feed.

DSCN2796The California condor population steadily declined during the 20th century until there were only 22 known to exist in the world. The last of the free-flying condors were taken into captivity in 1987 in order to save the species from extinction. There were no California condors in the wild between 1988 and 1991, but reintroduction efforts began in early 1992 and continue today. As of May 2013, there are approximately 435 California condors in the world, about 237 of which are free-flying in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico.

The other bird that they have helped to bring back from the edge of extinction is the Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine population was decimated in 1950-1970 because of DDT poisoning (which was banned in 1972) and were declared an endangered species. They were removed from this list in 1999 because of the hard work of the Peregrine Fund.

A beautiful view of Boise from the outdoor amphitheater.

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The Peregrine Falcon is a very fast flier, averaging 25-34 mph in traveling flight, and reaching speeds up to 69 mph in direct pursuit of prey. During its spectacular hunting stoop the peregrine may reach speeds of 200 mph as it drops toward its prey.

Powerful and fast-flying, the Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop.

This is where we really lucked out. Normally they only do bird flights on the week-ends but they had two young birds that they were training and we were there to see it.

One of the birds was a Peregrine Falcon who had been raised by her handler from a very early age and was five months old. Monica put Cinda through her paces as she is teaching her how to kill her prey. Monica used quail meat and would swing it around like it was flying so Cinda would dive for it. She would try to keep it away from the falcon but as soon as the falcon hit the prey she would drop it to the ground and let Cinda enjoy her prize. It was fascinating to watch.

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The hood is used to keep her calm and to stop her from trying to fly away. However, if she should take off, that is a GPS tracker that you see on her back so they can go get her.

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The second bird was a tufted owl (closely related to the Great Horned Owl). Wally was gorgeous to watch in flight and has been trained to fly to different perches with food placed on them.

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Just look at those eyes.

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13 comments:

  1. That is so cool! We saw the sign for the center as we were zooming down the highway. Both of us agreed that next time we're going to stop and see that. We're schedule driven at the moment, so we missed it on this pass.

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  2. At first I thought World Center might have been an exaggeration, but that really does look like a great place to visit. Those orange eyes on the owl are freaky.

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  3. What a great exhibit! I'd love to stop there some time, if I ever get west, again. I saw a documentary a year or so ago about the condors. The other birds were interesting, as well. My friend's daughter is a falconer.

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  4. Wow, great photos. You guys are really into the wonderful attractions along your path this year. We are lucky to travel with you :))

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  5. What a very interesting event that you ran across. And wonderful photos as well.

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  6. What a fun time that would be watching all the activity. Love the photos !

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  7. Love it! We saw that kind of show in Tucson. Absolutely fascinating!

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  8. Oh wow would have have been super to see. What a treat. If I saw that condor flying anywhere close to me, I would get Bella inside fast. She could be an appetizer to that bird.

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  9. I would love to see all this. It was amazing that they were able to bring these birds back to the wild

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  10. I LOVE birds of prey!! We happened upon a Great Horned Owl in Goose Island SP , Texas..amazing birds!

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  11. That is really cool, we should be very grateful to those people that have worked so hard to protect these amazing birds. I have seeing a Condor in the wild on my bucket list. :c)

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Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.