Birds of Prey Day.

For weeks now I’ve been looking forward to going to Birds of Prey Day in Brewster, NY. It’s on a farm and the poster said there would be 100 birds of prey there! You know what that means: OWLS. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. Cricket and I drove up to Brewster (a 45-minute drive) and OMG I’M GONNA SEE A MILLION OWLS!!

Okay, so it was a bit of a letdown. There were indeed about 100 birds of prey, but they were mostly eagles and hawks and falcons. In fact, this was predominantly run by a falconer’s association, so people were walking around with scary killer birds on their arms like it was no big deal. There was this bird:

And this one:

And this and this and this and also this:

And this adorable baby goshawk who was soft and warm and precious:

And they’re beautiful, but I really dig owls. Owls are my bag, man. What I learned there is owls are not for having. If you’re a member of the falconer’s association (which I could never be because I live in an apartment and you need to have a falconer’s outdoor area which must be approved by the association) you can slowly (over seven years) work up the falconry ladder getting to bigger and more dangerous birds, but at no point can you have an owl. You cannot buy an owl. You cannot acquire an owl. There are no owls to be had. I was very forlorn. It seems my dream of owl ownership is slowly fading away.

But not all was lost! There was a wildlife rehabilitation group there and they had some owls! Granted, they didn’t have the ones I really wanted to see (Eastern Screech or Saw-Whet) but they had this lovely one that was trying to catch a bit of a snooze, I think it’s a Barred Owl:

And a grumpy-pants horned one who gave me some serious stink-eye.

I love how because their eyes work independently in a lot of ways (pupils dilate and contract, eyelids blink) it looks like there are two separate expressions on their faces.

The best owl experience of the day was a with a wee tiny fellow. He was a short-eared owl, and he was a seething tiny puffball of rage in a wooden holding thing. I asked the nice rehabilitator man if he could pull out the little guy for me so I could get a shot of him and he said, “No, and I’ll tell you why. That bird is new, he’s wild and he’s feisty. But I’ll take a picture of him if you’d like.” I handed him my camera, and the man walked up slowly to the box, snapped a photo as quickly as he could and pulled his hand out of there. I found it great that this large, six-foot-one man was wary of this itty-bitty tiny smootchie demon-beast. Here’s the photo.

Evil Death-Bird…of DEATH! And Cuteness! But mainly DEATH!

There was also a wolf at the Birds of Prey Day, and that was kind of exciting. The wolf handlers were really nervous about having the wolf be around so many kids, but I was psyched. “Wha…? There might be a mauling? I don’t want to miss that! Lemme get my funnel cake and I’ll be right there!” However, this was the most mellow wild animal I have ever seen in my life.

The wolf handler asked the audience if anyone had a really fragrant perfume or lotion and someone did, so she poured it on the ground, and the wolf rolled around in it. He does that to mask his scent from his prey. So now, before his prey is taken down, it will be wondering why the forest smells like Bath and Body Works.

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