Sunday, November 14, 2010

Controlled Conditions

On my recent Catskills photography trip we visited the so called Roundtop Raptor Center. It was off season, but the proprietor was happy to show us some of his birds. For a fee of course.

And for that fee, we were able to photograph the birds up close and personal, as the saying goes.

The birds had no choice.

Harris's Hawk

American Kestrel

Red-Tailed Hawk

Turkey Vulture

In addition to the raptors there were also Red Junglefowl ...

Also known as Roosters

As well as a coop full of ...


There were also camera shy peafowl. A curious collection.


I wasn't sure what to expect when we set out to visit the "Raptor Center", but it wasn't tethered birds sitting in a yard. 

Harris's Hawk, Tethered
(note the missing talons (click the image))

The birds, a half dozen tethered, would occasionally try to fly. And they'd come crashing to the ground. You'd think they would learn, but no, they would repeatedly try.

Nor did I expect to find heathy wild birds kept in ramshackle enclosures.

The only other raptor centers I've experience with are involved with bird rehabilitation and public outreach. They have two classes of birds in their care. Those that they expect to release back to the wild, and those with injuries that will preclude such release. The latter become permanent residents and educators. Ambassadors of their kind to we who hold the fate of entire species in our hands.


The Center appeared to be a one man operation. The birds kept to be trained as hunters, the proprietor a falconer.

Glove and Claw



I've been working this post for a while, word smithing but not quite getting it to work.

And then my friend Laura did it for me, writing this. Go read it. And be sure to read the comments.


LauraHinNJ said...

I still don't feel like I have it worked out...

(maybe the comments will help!)

I have pics of that same Barred... beautiful owl!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful opportunity to get up and personal w/ the birds! I have never seen the first 2 bird pictured and boy are they beauties! I also love the timing of that screaming bird....what a capture!