Raptors Visitor Centre on Vancouvers Island

If you go to Trip Advisor and search for the top things to do in Duncan, British Columbia, the first thing that comes up is The Raptors.  Although Tom and I did several things in the area before we went to The Raptors, we agree that it is a very interesting thing to do.

When I first suggested going to the The Raptors, Tom wasn’t very excited.  He doesn’t like zoos or seeing wild animals caged.  Both of us have seen a lot of eagles, hawks, and osprey this summer on San Juan Island.  But I thought it would be interesting to see them up close instead of far overhead.

The Raptors is a place to get close to birds of prey.  Before we paid the admission fee, we asked how the birds end up at this sanctuary.  The cashier told us that some of the birds were born at the center, some come as rescues, and some are there because people bought them as pets and got tired of them.  None of the birds can be released to the wild, so the center gives them a place to live.

Holding the bald eagle

Biologists and falconers work at the center on Vancouvers Island.  Their goal is to “educate, illuminate and encourage a sense of personal responsibility for the future of these essential creatures.”  Although the center is open a lot between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it has very limited hours the rest of the year.  When we paid our admission we had to choose between general admission ($16 each), the Hawk Walk ($32 each) or the Encounter ($52 each).  Because we are generally cheap, we opted for the general admission.

General admission got us into the park and we walked around and saw the birds in their cages.  Several of the workers had birds out and let us see them up close.  We saw a bald eagle and a Harris hawk perched on the leather falconers’ gloves.  I was especially impressed by the size of the eagle’s talons.  They looked like curved steel knives.  Those things could rip holes in flesh!

Holding a kestrel

The Hawk Walk meant that you could wear a falconer’s glove and hold a bird.  The worker also took you to the flying field and let a hawk swoop over your head and land on the glove.  The couple ahead of us had purchased the Hawk Walk so we watched them holding the birds and enjoyed seeing the hawk land on their glove.  The hawk flies free and decides where to land, but landing on the glove means it gets a raw chicken treat.

We saw a variety of birds of prey.  There were hawks of all sizes and descriptions, from a Kestrel to a Peregrine falcon.  We saw a red-tailed hawk, a Ferruginous hawk, a gyrfalcon, a northern goshawk, and a prairie falcon.  There were several eagles including the bald eagle and a golden eagle.  We saw several kinds of owls:  great horned, great grey, barred, barn, and spectacled.  There was a huge Marabou stork, a vulture, and a kookaburra.  I’ve never seen a kookaburra before, although I have sung the song about one.

Look at the size of those talons!
Bald eagle
Holding a gyrfalcon
Barred owl
Spectacled Owl
Ferruginous hawk
Marabou stork
Harris hawk and handler

Tom and I really enjoyed our visit to The Raptors.  It was interesting to see the birds up close.  Now, when we see one in the distance, we will know a little more about it.