Bird Abatement at the Cemetery

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One of the jobs our birds of prey have is bird abatement. They work at landfills, airports, vineyards and building sites to move birds like gulls, starlings and geese.

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Geese in the distance

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Geese hanging out near Shakespeare’s grave (Enoch Shakespeare, that is)

We recently started a contract working at my local cemetery to move the flocks of Canada Geese that like to loiter all day leaving their slippery little gifts everywhere. Our job is to go in, count the geese, record any of the neck tags we see and then encourage them to move along. This can be done with lasers, dogs, and of course hawks.

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Getting ready to fly

Today we brought Lulu the female Harris hawk over for our literal wild goose chase. It’s not very hard to convince a group of sixty-seven geese to skedaddle once they see Lulu.

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Lulu can be a bit of a talker

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The end goal

Pretty much one short flight in their direction was enough to send them packing. We still took Lulu for a walk around the rest of the cemetery so she could enjoy some exercise and look beautiful doing it.

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Harris hawk appropriately atop the gravestone of Harriet Harris

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Lulu going after a toss-up, see the little piece of meat?

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Got it!

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There are lots of interesting old tombstones at this cemetery and apparently multiple thousands of people are buried here. Many of the grave markers are very old, and quite a few are for those who died quite young. It’s a beautiful and serene place and I’d like to come back some time with the supplies to do some sketches and stone rubbings.

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Someone my age who was “killed in the explosion” in 1887. Likely a miner

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Gravesite of a 12 year old boy who died in 1889

You can see that both of these old grave markers have been reinforced with concrete. That’s because they’re carved from marble which is actually a very soft stone that erodes comparatively quickly in the weather. Nowadays most gravestones are made from granite.

A Couple of Eagles

We are open again at the Raptor Centre! It’s been great to have everyone back in to see the demos and visit with the birds. It’s a busy time, but I love that there’s always something to do.

Here are a couple of shots of two of our lovely eagles. The first is one of our adult male bald eagles who has just finished performing his aerial maneuvers for a big crowd in the daily flying demonstration.

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And here is one of our female golden eagles with a juvenile male baldy in the background.

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Because it’s spring time we also have lots of raptor moms getting ready to hatch out some eggs. I can’t wait!

Great Horned Owl on the Glove

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Here is one of our beautiful male Great Horned owls. This species has a lot of variation in plumage color, and this particular owl is from further north so he is very light. In these photos I have brought him out of his aviary to soak up some warm spring sunshine

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What an absolute sweetie he is. The little sounds an owl makes when they are content would melt your heart.

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Female Red-Tailed Hawk Up Close

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This little girl has actually lost most of her tail for now. Luckily she has luxury accommodations and room service for as long as it takes to grow back!

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If you ever get a chance to man a redtailed hawk, you’ll understand how serious their talons are. They are strong birds that can grip almost hard enough to crush your hand if they really wanted to.

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Here’s a Little Barn Owl

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On the glove, to brighten your day! If you ever get a chance to hold one, they weigh next to nothing. I think he weighs about 250 grams if I remember right. I love being able to have him up close so I can admire his intricate feather patterns.

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Barn owls are definitely one of the strangest birds I’ve ever met. They can seem a bit deranged, especially when they’re well-fed and display this very menacing behavior where they hold out their wings and rock back and forth, clicking their beaks at you. It’s pretty demonic.

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I still quite like them though!