Sep 10, 2022
Liberty, Audubon’s resident Bald Eagle has two new roommates — Soren, a red-tailed hawk, and Cricket an American Kesteral. P-J photo by Michael Zabrodsky
Liberty, The Audubon Community Nature Center’s 20-year resident Bald Eagle, has two new roommates.
Soren, a red-tailed hawk, and Cricket, an American Kestrel are the center’s new resident rehabilitated birds of prey.
What makes these birds different from other birds is the shape of their beaks. Animal Care Specialist Kim Turner said their beaks are much more pointed and sharper than other birds.
“And that adaptation allows them to eat meat. So, as opposed to seeds, or fruit, or other vegetation, these birds solely eat meat,” Turner said.
The birds also have larger talons for catching and clutching prey.
“Their talons are larger and sharper. The claws on their feet are going to help them with catching prey or other animals that they eat,” Turner added.
Turner noted that their diets in the wild can consist of mammals, other birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and the two birds are native to this region in the United States. Kesterals, Turner said will spend time nears open fields while the red-tailed hawk is usually perched higher on the edges of forests.
“You will even see them on roadsides,” Turner said of red-tailed hawks.
Currently Soren is still getting used to his new aviary space, but Cricket and Liberty are both visible daily from sunrise to sundown.
The birds are worked with daily and trained on a glove, so they can be used in educational programs. Tuner said she had to train with various birds of prey through hands-on experience with Tamarack Wildlife Center and Wild Spirit Education (for a minimal amount), for 240 hours, a requirement for federal and New York state permits. The animal ambassadors or educational animals that are wild animals that are non-releasable because they would not survive in the wild.
“Quality of life is our priority with these animals,” Turner said.
Soren is from Highland, Michigan and found near the road. He was thin, missing his hallux talon, and had bruised wing tips. He was probably hit by a car. He can’t be released because he is missing his left rear talon (claw), which is vital for hunting and holding onto fighting prey. In the wild, this bird would likely die of starvation,Turner said.
Cricket is from near Erie, Pa. He was hit by a car and broke his wing. After rehabilitation, his wing healed, but not perfectly enough for release. Although this allows him to still fly, he would not be strong enough for migration or nimble enough for consistent hunting, Turner noted.
The center’s mission is to build and nurture connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways. The center also envisions a future where every child within the community has a real and healthy connection to nature, according to auduboncnc.org.
“Kim can actually take these birds put them on her glove and bring them out and show them to people. And they (people) can experience something that normally you can only experience through binoculars, said Jeff Tome, Audubon’s public engagement specialist.
The center is a 570-acre wetland preserve that includes over five miles of trails, a native tree arboretum, picnic areas, a natural play space, and educational gardens for you to explore daily from dawn until dusk. Patrons can visit Liberty in her enclosure near the building. Public programs, animal ambassadors, and docents may also be available to enrich your experience The center is home to the Blue Heron Gift Shop and three floors of interactive exhibits, including live animals, which inform and engage visitors of all ages. The center also has spaces available to rent for your use. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. The trails and grounds are open daily, year round from dawn to dusk, the website noted.
“I have a passion for animals. That is what drew me to this organization,” turner said.
Ironically, her favorite animal is an armadillo.
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