August 23, 2011 | Tips from Travellers >
Richmond, Bird Watching
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Richmond is host to a number of very cool events each year. When I heard that the 4th annual Raptor Festival was to be held in Terra Nova Park, I immediately made plans to go check it out.
A raptor festival? What the heck is that? Raptors are the broad term for ‘birds of prey’. This is a one day event where the public can get up close and personal with eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, owls, and many other predatory birds. They have educational displays, talks, and even live shows where you can see the birds in action. Very cool!
When I arrived I met up with one of the handlers, Robyn, and she introduced me to her harris hawk ‘Tuari’. Tuari was a beautiful bird and was very happy posing for my camera. I learned that harris hawks are considered ‘social birds’ as they hunt and travel in packs. They are referred to as the ‘wolves of the sky’ because of their pack mentality and teamwork in taking down prey. Known for being exceptionally intelligent, they have been traditionally used to help in places like landfills, airports and vineyards to deter problem birds.
Harris hawks are not native to BC; they are found around the South Western United States, especially Texas and Arizona. Our particular bird, Tuari, was three years old and expected to live to around thirty. Birds in captivity generally live a lot longer than birds in the wild as their food and shelter is provided for them. As Robyn joked, it’s like they are at the ‘Raptor Resort’. When asked why they don’t just take off and fly away when released, she stated that the birds realize the lifestyle they’ve been given and enjoy the perks. Would you leave an all-inclusive resort with free food? Neither would the hawks!
I was eager to see Tuari ‘in action’ and I soon got my chance! She put on a great show swooping over the crowd, soaring around the sky, and gliding in between Robyn and another handler. We saw several other birds during the show too, all of which entertained the excited crowd garnering loud applauses for their spectacular displays.
If you’ve never seen a birds of prey show before, I can’t recommend them enough. They’re entertaining, unique, and a fabulous way to spend an afternoon! Definitely keep an eye out for them when they return to Richmond!