Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Tidings and Updates from the Raptor Centre!

With the holidays already upon us, Mountsberg Conservation Area has been bustling with activity! Santa and Mrs. Claus will soon be waving their goodbyes to the last of our visiting families out at Mountsberg's Christmas Town, and just in time to gear up for their big night. Don't worry, though-- there will still be lots of things to do at the park after Christmas! The birds of prey in particular are looking forward to making an appearance at the New Years Hoopla event, which is sure to be a hit; it includes a winter wagon ride, dinner, crafts, a night hike, a barn visit, a bonfire, and more! Call the park to reserve your spot, as we are filling up quickly!

If you visit the park during the holidays, our seasonal wagon/sleigh rides will take place daily at 1pm and 3pm for $2.00 per person, which takes you on a 45-minute excursion along part of the beautiful Lakeshore Lookout Trail. Our bird of prey shows will run daily at 12pm and 2pm in the Raptor Centre theatre-- be sure to bring your camera!

The Raptor Centre Staff have been busily getting the birds ready for winter; as we mentioned in our last entry, the onset of the winter cold means that our temperature-sensitive raptors are moved into their winter housing and may no longer be on public display. If your favourite bird is off display, feel free to ask the Raptor Centre staff for an update when you visit!

Unfortunately, not all of our holiday news is good news-- Otus, one of our two grey-phase Eastern Screech-owls, has been under the weather lately. Eastern Screech-owls are one of Ontario's most common species of owl, and they are also the second smallest owl (after the Northern Saw-whet Owl) that lives within the province. Just like humans, birds of prey can suffer from illnesses-- and just like humans, a sick raptor goes to visit the doctor! In this case, Otus was taken to the Ontario Veterinary College, and the trip to the veterinarian revealed that he was fighting off an infection of the central nervous system. Thanks to the excellent medical care received at the Ontario Veterinary College, Otus is well on his way to recovery and seems to be enjoying the extra holiday attention.

In other raptor news, Pawgwashiing the bald eagle is still doing very well during her training period, although she has developed into quite the picky eater! While most raptors are happy to eat a variety of prey items, this youngster has decided that rabbit and rainbow trout are her favourites-- and that she would really rather not eat anything else. Luckily, a very kind gentleman who visits Mountsberg regularly has been keeping Pawgwa stocked up with trout... but we have it on good authority that our male bald eagles, Cornelius and Phoenix, may be getting jealous!

We are happy to report that Pittsburgh Pete the peregrine falcon is also doing quite well. Mountsberg Raptor Centre would like to thank the local Falcon Watchers who have visited the park since Pete's arrival, and who have been generous enough to share stories and photos of Pete's 2008 season on the Burlington Lift Bridge. We will be sure to continue Pete's story in a future blog entry.

If you are interested in supporting our resident raptors, we invite you to visit the park and pick up an Adopt-a-Raptor brochure. Your donation helps to pay for food, equipment, and veterinary care for non-releasable birds like Otus! Volunteering is also a great way to support the Raptor Centre. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our dedicated and talented volunteers for all their hard work in keeping the Raptor Centre (and the birds) running smoothly. We can't do it without them! If you are interested in volunteering at the Raptor Centre, please contact us for more information, and stay tuned for a future blog entry detailing volunteer experiences at the park.

We hope to see you on the trails-- and have a safe and happy holiday season!