We have lots of these birds around the ranch, but these two we call Chilly and Willy have been coming back for the last two years and raising their young in a nearby nest. We supplement their food supply in exchange for the pleasure of watching them soar and show off for us.
I forgot how wonderful our Canon 300 mm lens is, until I switched from the 70 to 210 zoom to take pictures of the Falcons that were showing off for us. They were the opening act before the fireworks display that we had later the night of the 4th of July. They knew that they would be rewarded with a treat left on the fence post…..
When your much loved pet is sick or injured you would do anything to insure the best possible care and a speedy recovery. But would you or could you care for about 150 to 300 orphaned or injured birds in a year? We are not talking cute little parrots or love birds. How about hawks and vultures and other birds of prey? Up until 1971 a bounty was paid for shooting a hawk. They were getting a bad rap from farmers for killing chickens. Eagles have been known to kill sheep, but to wipe out a whole species has proven to be detrimental to the planet. Through the educational efforts of Last Chance Forever, a raptor sanctuary, the public is gaining knowledge as to the benefits that these birds contribute to our environment. Demonstrations by LCF held throughout the United States provide a means to enlighten 500,000 people each year to the role that these raptors play as indicators of our ecological health. Master Falconer and Veterinarian Technician, John Karger founded the organization in 1978. Each year due to the care these orphaned, sick or injured birds receive, 65 to 80% of them are able to be released back into their natural environment. Surgery and medical care is provided for these birds by Melissa Hill, the highly skilled veterinarian for LCF. Raptors that are rescued, but sustain injuries that prohibit them from surviving in the wild, are used as ambassadors to increase awareness of their virtues to the public. During one of the exhibitions conducted by the staff of Last Chance Forever, we were treated to a demonstration which included a Red Tailed Hawk, a Harris Hawk, a Bald Eagle and a Great Horned Owl. On another occasion we were able to see a Lanner Falcon and a Barn Owl. Superstitions and myths surrounding owls were dispelled for me, the first time I looked into the eyes of this beautiful female barn owl that had been rescued as an orphaned owlet. She appeared healthy and strong, but malnutrition that she experienced before her rescue had caused a deformity that would prevent her from flying and surviving outside the sanctuary.
Information and advice for anyone who needs assistance in aiding wildlife of any kind can be found at their web-site Lastchanceforever.org. They primarily provide care for Birds of Prey, but are able to direct you to organizations that will help other species of birds and animals.
Our 4th Of July included a return visit from two Crested Cara Caras. Often they are waiting on the fence post for us to bring them a treat. We talked about our habit of feeding these raptors to our friend John Karger. John founded a refuge for injured or orphaned Birds Of Prey which includes eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures and owls. The veterinarian care and rehabilitation that they receive enables 65 to 80% of the birds that are taken in to be released back into their natural habitat. John stated that as long as we did not make a daily habit of feeding these falcons, they would not become dependent on us for their total diet. As a Veterinarian Technician and Falconer, John has provided education and awareness of these raptors through the Last Chance Forever Sanctuary since 1978. During on of our visits with John we learned that the Crested Cara Cara eat primarily carrion along side vultures, but will also hunt birds and rodents. “I give them 30 seconds before they come” Tom said yesterday when our friends were gathered around for the air show. “Chilly and Willy” as we have come to call them were nowhere in sight at this point, but it was less than a minute before they appeared to entertain us. Known as the National Bird of Mexico or the Mexican Eagle, our amigos were more than willing join in our Independence Day celebration.