Great Horned Owl
I want a treat or else…
Paul, the handler and property owner.
Paul and his wife run Wild Spirit which was formed in 1995 as a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Wild Spirit became one of the premier Wildlife Rehab Centers in our area, but now they are more into educating individuals about the natural world.
Many of the birds at Wild Spirit had injuries which brought them to the facility and prevented them from being released. The Great Horned Owl at the beginning of this post has only one eye for example.
This is where the wildlife lives. There are acres and acres of meadows, filled with naturally occurring wildflowers as far as one can see. Now these are meadows in the best sense of the word. The blurred background of each image of the birds is meadows on all sides.
A very long, dirt and stone drive leads to the place. Parking is in a small mowed area. The buckeye above was sunning on the driveway. The pretty pond below is filled with frogs and dragonflies.
Our photography group was invited to Wild Spirit to photograph the birds on Sunday. It was a wonderful opportunity for many of the group not accustomed to shooting wildlife. We are required to submit images to a private Flickr account for Wild Spirit to use in their promotion, and the ones I am submitting are different images than I posted here.
I am guessing many GWGT readers are very interested in the property, more so than the birds. The meadows are home to many nesting boxes. Bird life is very much encouraged here, from songbirds to raptors. I did see a few hawks flying overhead, but they were too far outside the range of my lens, even the 400mm.
The pond is a pretty feature in this landscape and is home to water lilies. Notice, I focused on that teeny insect. I cannot help myself.
The Madagascar cockroach below is one of three that were roaming around on logs. I am guessing they are like pets, but they are used in the educational lectures.
The photographers are letting the cockroaches crawl on their arms.
I am particularly fond of the large birds. The Red Tailed Hawk shown in many images was a favorite of mine. You will recall, I have photographed them in my garden. They come in winter to feast on songbirds. I like seeing the hawks, but not them killing the smaller birds. But they have to eat too, I guess.
Unfortunately, the birds here at this facility could not be set free to fly. No birds were trained to return, but the facility is trying to raise $1000 to purchase a young falcon that will be trained for free flight.
The Snowy Owl in the post was the newest member of the aviary.
Barred Owl, I think. I did see one on Google images listed as an Eastern Screech Owl, but think that may be wrong.
Red Tailed Hawk with jesses attached.
I did learn something I had no idea of previously. In talking with the owner, I learned that falconry can be an inhumane hobby. I learned that some, not all, but some, starve their birds to aid in the training and to return to the lure which has food. The thought is that starving the birds aids in making the birds obey. If true, I guess birds would quickly get sick and be too weak to hunt. I found this enlightening.
Hunger is what motivates a bird to hunt in the wild, so I guess that is on which the falconer depends. I know because I have a bird myself, they eat quite a bit of food. I get amazed at what quantities of food my cockatoo can consume. He loves meat too and will scarf down sizable portions. You think of parrots just eating seeds, but they eat just about anything. One of his favorite foods is spaghetti. Here he is below as “upside down birdie.” This is one of his many tricks.
I also learned there is a creance that can be attached to the jesses, which is a long tether on a reel for allowing a bird to fly up to 100 feet away from the trainer. It is used in training birds. I was really interested in this for my own bird. I am sure he would love to fly outdoors, even though he does not like going outside very much. He gets anxious outside.
The owners may use any of the images submitted by the photographers in their promotional material. While we were there, each of us donated to the facility. So everyone was very generous in giving both time and money.
You all know my catalog of bird photography, especially those from winter; cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, and many other varieties like the summer hummingbirds. I have photographed hawks in flight in the wild and in my garden.
I very much like photographing birds of all kinds and am very lucky to live minutes from Niagara Falls, a great place for bird watching. This post is about photography for the most part, but birds, big and small, are a part of every garden. And keeping gardens pesticide/herbicide free and filled with plants that shelter and feed them makes for a garden full of life of all kinds.
I would be very honored if the owners chose some of my images of their birds for promotional handouts. Action shots were pretty much out, so I went for expression. That is one thing birds do well, show their emotion on their faces.