Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Great Wyoming Adventure: Teton Raptor Center

On a cool, quiet Tuesday morning in late September, we made our way down to tiny Wilson, Wyoming, for a visit to the Teton Raptor Center.

Our timing was perfect: the center was still on their summer schedule, delivering regular interpretive programs in the outdoor tent, but the crowds of summer were gone, and we were a group of only 6 guests, rather than the several dozen that regularly visit in July.

Raptors, of course, are those birds of prey which are specialized for hunting: owls, falcons, hawks, eagles, etc.

The Teton Raptor Center's primary efforts are in the areas of rehabilitation and return to the wild for sick or injured birds, and education and outreach programs to help educate laypeople about these beautiful but not often encountered birds.

Jason gave us a spectacular tour, taking his time, answering all our questions, letting us spend some time with these amazing birds just inches away.

We learned about the center's resident raptors:

  • Gus the Golden Eagle
  • Owly the Great Horned Owl
  • Ruby the Red-tailed Hawk

We also saw live exercise and falconry with two other birds:

  • A Harris's Hawk, a fascinating species which hunt cooperatively as a group.
  • A Lanner Falcon, a beautiful small bird that catches its prey in mid-air.

Also out on display were a Gyrfalcon, breath-taking in its size and power, and a pair of young Goshawks, part of an international captive breeding program for species genetic diversity.

Teton Raptor Center is a small organization, but they are great people: they are dedicated to saving and protecting the wild birds, and to helping people understand what we need to do to ensure that the birds have habitat and opportunity to survive.

For raptors to survive, the ecosystem must be healthy; we learned this when we almost lost the Bald Eagle in the 1960's. Organizations like Teton Raptor Center are special places, and we both really enjoyed visiting them and supporting their programs.

If you ever find yourself near Jackson, Wyoming, stop in at the Teton Raptor Center; I'm sure you'll enjoy your visit, and you'll come away with a fresh appreciation for these wonderful creatures.

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