|A beautiful eagle standing still!|
Toward the end of our time in Vermont, we visited the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences Nature Center. Our main interest in going was to see the raptors they had on the premises--they have a program that rehabilitates injured raptors, and they also care for raptors whose injuries prevent them from being re-released. We turned out to be very lucky. We had planned a couple of other activities that day, and we were concerned once we headed out from Burlington that we'd gotten too late a start or planned too much. But our timing was perfect in that we arrived about 45 minutes ahead of raptor feeding time. So we had some time to wander around the premises, check out the injured songbirds that were being rehabilitated, and then familiarize ourselves with the raptors before their feeding time. They had a great variety--bald eagles, golden eagles, various owls, various hawks, falcons, turkey vultures, and ravens. One thing that surprised me was that the raptors came from all over the US. Another thing I found interesting is that many (maybe even most) of them had been injured in collisions with vehicles. If I remember, most of them had impaired flight ability, although I think at least one had impaired vision.
At feeding time, a volunteer went into each raptor enclosure in turn and left offerings of dead mice and rabbits. I expected the birds to make a beeline for the food, but they weren't too interested initially. The volunteer who fed them said that because it was a warm day, they weren't all that hungry.
About midway through the feeding time, we learned that they were having a special program where they would bring out a few of the raptors who weren't on public display, so we went to see that. It was interesting to compare to our visit to the Sunkar falcon farm in Kazakhstan. I remember having the raptors there swoop in on us from overhead, and being concerned that one would land on me and gouge me with their talons. This time, the birds were carefully tethered to the leather gloves they were perched on so there was little chance of them escaping or causing havoc.
It's sad to think of raptors not being able to return to the wild because of their injuries, but I love the fact that there are so many humans invested in caring for them and giving them the best life possible. It was fun to get to see them up close. Unfortunately, as is often the case for animals, they were not particularly cooperative about posing for pictures, although I think I caught the bald eagle at the top of the page in a pretty good moment.
|And a sculpture that can't move about!|