This gallery contains 6 photos. Sunday, August 16 was a good day at the 8th Richmond Raptor Festival, held once again at Terra Nova Rural Park. This educational and entertaining annual event showcased a variety of birds of prey and flight demonstrations from the Duncan, Vancouver Island-based wildlife rehabilitation organization, Pacific Northwest Raptors. First up: this large owl. I had never seen one in the feathers before, but I guessed correctly that it was a Spectacled Owl. Here he is getting some shade under the tent during the intermissions. He was remarkably calm and composed, and not in the least rattled to have so many lenses thrust in his direction.
The Spectacled Owl is a beautiful large owl of Central and South America.
f/8, 1/250, 150-500 mm telephoto lens, 229 mm, ISO 400
This young lady is a juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk, perhaps the most common hawk in North America. Not exhibited during the flight demonstration, she was probably an “understudy” or fallback, in case one of the other birds of prey got sick or was otherwise unable to participate in the flight demonstrations. It was a pleasure to meet her during the intermissions between the shows.
A profile shot of a female juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk.
f/5.6, 1/800, 150-500 mm telephoto lens, 267 mm, ISO 100
This young male Harris’s Hawk had a bit of “stage fright” (or nerves) during the first show with the large audience, but handled things much better after meeting fans backstage afterwards. By the second flight demonstration, he was paying more attention to his handlers’ commands and cues. Harris’s Hawks are natives of the southwestern U.S., and Central and South America. They are quite trainable and make great falconry birds, and live to about 20 years in captivity. They are also special in that, unlike other raptors, they hunt in packs.
This young male Harris’s Hawk catches a piece of meat tossed up by one of his handlers.
f/8, 1/2000, 150-500 mm telephoto lens, 267 mm, ISO 500
Having sighted my first Turkey Vulture in 2009, and more recently on Galiano Island over the 2015 BC Day long weekend, I finally had the opportunity to meet one up close for the first time (discounting its sub 6-foot wingspan, it is only a little bit larger than the Spectacled Owl). It was interesting to learn about this carrion eater, including the fact that it does a “Number 1 and Number 2” down its legs to keep them clean!
Turkey Vultures have only been spotted in Metro Vancouver within the last 15 years.
f/8, 1/1000, 100 mm macro lens, 100 mm, ISO 400
Peregrine falcons are my favourite bird of prey for their dazzling beauty and amazing speed. When they execute their stoop dives, they can achieve speeds of over 320 km/h (figures from the Peregrine Falcon Wikipedia profile). This young lady amazed us with the way she caught the food tossed up by her handler — she would “punch” it like she would with live prey.
This young female Peregrine eagerly took to the skies during the flight demonstrations.
f/8, 1/2000, 150-500 mm telephoto lens, 439 mm, ISO 640
This male juvenile Bald Eagle (note the black on his bill is fading to yellow, and the brown head feathers are giving way to white ones) was a handful, and even gave his handler a bite on the cheek (and a dime-sized scar) as he was being taken out at the conclusion of his part of the second flight demonstration. Bald Eagles are an example of a raptor species that has been successfully brought back from the edge of extinction. These are the raptors I have seen most often in Metro Vancouver.
This rambunctious juvenile male Bald Eagle gave us some spectacular flight shots.
f/8, 1/2000, 150-500 mm, 370 mm, ISO 500
See more examples of the Weekly WordPress Challenge: Today Was a Good Day.