Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, October 2, 2010

World Center for Birds of Prey…Boise, ID

The World Center for Birds of Prey is located on the outskirts of Boise, high on a hill.  My visit there, this morning, was very interesting, a photographic challenge, very informative for the general public, and well worth the time for a visit.  It is run by The Peregrine Fund which I believe originated in Ithaca, NY, in association with the Cornel Laboratory of Ornithology.  I think The Peregrine Fund was originally set up in the early 70’s to help reestablish the endangered Peregrine Falcon to our country, but has since branched out to help with other endangered species throughout the world.  I’m trying to pull that information from my brain cells from the time I lived near Ithaca in the 70’s and 80’s, so don’t quote me on that.  :)

Anyway, I’m not a big fan of zoos and such, but do understand the necessity of these captive breeding programs to ensure that these species will not become extinct.  So, it was with some uncomfortableness that I visited this center. 
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The latest addition to this center is the California Condor outdoor viewing exhibit.  Through the efforts of the Peregrine Fund and other agencies, the number of California Condors has risen from a low of only 22 individuals, to a current population of around 390 in the US.  Through captive breeding activities, and reintroduction of the young in California and the Grand Canyon, the condor is slowly making a comeback.  One of the biggest problems is genetic diversity.  There were only 4 family strains left when the Fund began it’s work.  :(  I’m sure you’ve heard all the tales of when relatives breed.  :)  Another little bit of trivia for you…condors and vultures don’t have feathers on their heads because they are carrion eaters, and they are sticking their heads into nasty rotting animal cavities!  They would have one heck of a time trying to clean debris off of their heads if they had feathers.  :-P

The rest of the birds here are kept indoors, or in rather small enclosures with one wall facing the outdoors.  That poses two problems for someone trying to take pictures: lighting and fencing or bars, or glass windows to shoot through.  The use of a flash would also upset the birds, so I did not use one. 
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Because of the cages and low lighting, I was pretty much limited to head shots.  What I wouldn’t give to get shots of the Peregrine Falcon (L), and Gyrfalcon (R) in the wild!  A volunteer led us on a tour of the facility, and told us about each of the species.
52 On the way to Anahuac 20101 Luigi, the Harpy Eagle was a big part of the tour, and we watched a film about the plight of these eagles in Panama, and the work that is being done to educate the local people about this bird.  The Harpy Eagle is the national bird of Panama, is endangered, and besides destruction of habitat is most often killed by gunshot by folks that don’t understand it’s importance in the ecosystem.  Luigi is not blind in his left eye as it may appear in the center photo.  That is just his nictitating membrane (second eyelid) automatically protecting his eye.  My guess is that it covered his eye after detecting the little red light that goes out from my digital camera as it focuses.  In the wild, Luigi would eat monkeys, and things like that.
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After the conclusion of the tour, I spent some more time visiting the enclosures outside.  It was feeding time for this Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and he was very interested and vocal about getting fed.  :)  I can’t remember where this bird lives, but it’s not in North America.
_MG_6051This Bald Eagle is from Wisconsin, and has a broken wing that did not heal properly, so is on exhibit here from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
_MG_6054What a fierce countenance it has!  Is it any wonder that it is our National Bird?  I just wish it could be flying free somewhere.  :(  Kind of makes me think of all of our elderly folks subsisting in nursing homes.  Dang!
_MG_5985And my favorite from today was this Bateleur Eagle from Africa.  It’s been in captivity for 27 years.  How sad is that?

Like I said, I understand the need for these facilities, but I just wish it wasn’t necessary.

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy


  1. I'm with you Judy, it is a lot nicer to see these birds on the wing in the wild. I have been fortunate enough to see, but not photograph, both the Peregrine and Gryfalcons in their natural habitat. And we get many bald eagles around our farm in spring and fall as they migrate through.

  2. I'm glad you got to go. And I totally agree with you and the feelings you have. But the education the birds provide for individuals less knowledgable about our avian friends than you is beyond measure. Looking in those eyes should say it all ~ for anyone.

  3. Wonderful post from the World Center place. Those birds are amazing, especially the condor. Thanks for that info on why they don't have feathers on their heads. Of course I didn't know that.

    Funny story: When I was a teacher's aide back in the early 90's we had a school assembly where a guy brought in some birds of prey. He was full of great information and really had the students attention. He decided to let one of the birds fly from his perch on the stage across the room to land on something (can't remember now). Anyway, as the bird flew across the room he let off some urine or bird poop right on the principal. Boy, did the kids howl with that one. The principal wasn't too amused as it messed up her hair-do. :)

  4. We aren't Zoo people either & it has always bothered me to see animals in captivity. I understand it is necessary at times but I still don't care to see that. Same as a circus or rodeo. Just do not like having to see animals living or treated like that.

  5. I'm with you Emma on the cages , I guess the only saving grace is that most of those birds would not be alive otherwise. We are fortunate to have the Bald Eagles winter on the Mississippi River at Clarksville MO. and West Alton MO. Both within 30 miles of our home in Dardenne Prairie, they range quite a ways from their feeding & nesting areas on the river. I was surprised to see a very large female Bald sitting on the fence along the interstate ( 70) which is a very busy highway just watching the traffic go by,This was about 24 miles from the river. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  6. All I can say about your picutres is WOW! I love that header picture.

  7. Thanks for sharing these beautiful birds with us. I am going to add this to our Bucket List, but I agree with you about their confines. I would love to see each one in their own habitat and not in cages. Stay safe.

  8. Glad you were able to go we certainly enjoyed seeing it when we were in Boise.
    I to was very sad to see them in their pens but it is a great program that they have. Just think the Condor could be extinct by now if they weren't breeding them.

  9. Ya just gotta LOVE Luigi, the Harpy Eagle...What a wild looking bird!..We saw lots of American Eagles in Haines, Alaska years ago...I wish that one could have been soaring over some lake catching fish instead of in a cage looking out!...Your photos are incredible....I bow to you...

  10. Beautiful birds.

  11. Those eagles are amazing! We have a pair that nest each year down our road... and swoop in our river for fish--- they are so cool to watch!

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