This post was written the week of November 13th.
As the fall season continues to approach winter’s frigid arrival, moves are being made in the Raptor Center to adapt to the seasonal transition. Though our birds are winter-hardy, there are many things we can do to provide a more comfortable abode for the winter weather to come. Sheets of plywood are being put up on the north and west facing sides of some of the enclosures. Predominant wind and weather patterns come from these directions and another layer of insulation and wind breaking makes a significant difference in keeping the birds warmer. The south facing windows are left unblocked as much as possible to allow maximum sunlight into the enclosure. The enclosures are also being fashioned with water heaters and heated feeding stumps to help fight frozen food and water. Along with some of the adaptations to the birds’ home space, we are also upping their food intake to help them bulk up for the winter to come.
Accompanying the winterization is enrichment in natural ambiance. Rocks in the enclosures serve as objects for the birds to maintain clean and healthy beaks. There have also been some perches made for the Broad-winged Hawk. We are hoping these perches, made from select saplings with a nice rough coat of bark, will serve as an alternative to perching on the enclosure fences. The Broad-winged Hawk, being a flighted resident bird, is drawn to activity and roaming. In smaller spaces, this increased activity can lead to wear and damage to tail feathers which are essential to the bird’s well-being. We have four new mounted perches and two new standing perches, with more in the works. The idea is for the birds to experience natural elements of their environment.
One last highlight from this week was the Traveling Naturalist Program Emily, Erin and I took part in on November 13th. We took a Red-Tailed Hawk, Barred Owl, Black Rat Snake, and Box Turtle to Family Science Night at the Bellefonte Area High School. There was an abundance of quality displays and demonstrations that engaged people of all ages in attempt to educate and share fun. Every time we take the birds out, we see it as an opportunity to share feelings of respect and conservation toward wildlife and the environment. It is also fantastic to see the looks on faces, children and adults alike, when they come around a corner and see people holding a 5 foot Black Rat snake, or one of the largest hawks in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, our mission is to connect. In the Raptor Center we are constantly connecting people and animals to each other and their shared environment.