February 4, 2015
Birds of Prey - A Guest Blog From Raymond Haddad
As more and more falcons are spotted nesting in city buildings, interest in birds of prey, or raptors, has grown. Their numbers are surging and their interactions with people have increased, so it's important to understand how to protect and observe these birds from a distance. Today’s guest blog post comes to us from photographer Raymond Haddad (firstname.lastname@example.org)—he documented the important work of one particular conservation organization. I hope you enjoy learning more about it.
The Delaware Valley Raptor Center is a private, non-profit organization in Milford, PA, on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For more than 25 years, Bill Streeter, his wife Stephanie, and their organization have been dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of birds of prey: eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls. Run by a staff of two, the DVRC cares for orphaned, ill, and injured birds with the hope of eventually returning them to the wild. Those that can’t, are permanently fostered at the Streeters’ Cummins Hill facility—their work is funded by donations, membership dues, and the educational programs they conduct throughout the year.
I learned of the center’s work at an outreach event in the summer. Bill, a biologist and zoologist, introduced the crowd to his majestic birds and taught them about the raptors' natural habitat and behavior, and the conservation efforts of the group. After seeing these creatures up close, I knew I had to photograph them, and I did just that in October 2014.
On Jan. 8, the center’s home base and clinic was damaged by a devastating fire. Bill’s family and all of the fostered birds you see here were unharmed, but Bill now has the daunting task of rebuilding the center and help is needed more than ever. To learn more about the DVRC or for information about donating, please visit the website or Facebook page.
1 This female Snowy Owl, Oona, is eight years old. At the time of the photo shoot, she had all new plumage and had laid a number of eggs that season.
2 Oona, who has a wingspan of 5 1/2 feet and weighs five pounds, was rescued from an animal handler who bought her as a captive-bred bird. Because she has lived her entire life in captivity, she cannot be released into the wild.
3 Sadie, a female Peregrine Falcon, has immature plumage and is just 6 months old.
4 She suffered from a broken wing in the nest at 22 days old. The wing was infected and didn’t form correctly; she will never be able to fly, and she will be cared for by the DVRC for the rest of her life.
5 In contrast, this female Peregrine Falcon is 8 years old and has a blush-colored upper breast. She injured her left talon in the wild.
6 Neekahna, a Red-Tail Hawk, is Bill’s oldest bird at 30, and he has been caring for her since she was less than a year old.
7 Lola is a 12-year-old American Kestrel, North American’s smallest falcon; she was raised by people illegally before she came to the center.
8 Kestrels have great coloring and facial detailing.
9 D.J., an immature Merlin Falcon, has been at the center for just a couple of months. His wings and tail will get grayer as he ages—he will go through his first molt this April.
10 Merlins have long pointed wings and are powerful fliers.
11 Notice the yellow trim around this bird's eyes and beak. The more eggs they eat, the darker yellow they get.
12 The Golden Eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in North America, and Julia is a regal example.
13 She weighs 14 pounds and has a 7-foot wingspan! Golden Eagles are powerful enough to bring down jackrabbits and other small mammals. They have also been known to fight off bears and coyotes when defending their young.
14 Nineteen-year-old Julia was injured in the wild and can no longer see out of her right eye—she will live out the remainder of her life at the center.
15 Elvira is a female Great Horned Owl, one of the most common owls in North America. They have prominent feathered tufts on their heads, which make this breed easy to spot.
16 Great Horned Owls have large eyes and usually have excellent night vision for hunting, Elvira, however, is blind because of injures in both her eyes.
17 Nimbus, a 6-year-old Barred Owl.
18 The Barred Owl is only one of four species of dark-eyed owls in North America.
19 This sweet little Saw-whet Owl weighs only 4 ounces. We were lucky to see Mortimer on our visit; he is old for his breed—close to 15!