The Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka, FL (just north of Orlando) is a rehabilitation facility for raptors. Many of their rescues come in injured from an accident and are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some are injured so badly that they can never be released and they have a home there where they can help the public learn about their species and their lives.
Every Fall, the Center holds an Owl Fest and this year I read about it in the local paper and decided to head on over with camera in hand just to see what it was all about. There were several hundreds of people there, mostly young parents with small children. The staff is wonderful: knowledgeable and friendly. The birds, amazing. So, let me introduce you to a few of the residents of the Avian Reconditioning Center.
First up is a juvenile Barn Owl that is being raised at the Center. His mom is also here.
And here's mom.
Since this was Owl Fest, I focused my attention on this handsome Great Horned Owl. Here are a few shots of him.
Some of the other residents are very special. This is a female Peregrine Falcon. She came to the center with her mate who was injured and cannot fly. Peregrine's mate for life and so she's stayed with him and is the star of the falconry demonstrations at the Center. Did you know that when Peregrine's dive for prey they can be traveling over 200 mph?!
One of the long-term guests of the Center is this Bald Eagle who was born with a deformed wing. Oscar is over 30 years old.
One of my quests for the past few years was to get a shot of a Swallow-tailed Kite. I've seen them many times but always when my camera is somewhere else. At the Center, they have two Kites and I was able to photography them. My feelings about that are somewhat bitter-sweet: on one hand, the staff tells me they get very few Kites in for rehab which is good. The painful part was seeing these birds, so awesome in flight, looking somewhat like oversized pigeons when tethered to the stands. I still need to capture these guys in flight.
In addition to these guys, there are Golden Eagles, Red Shouldered Hawks, and lots of other Kites and Kestrels. My plan is to revisit the Center during these Fall months and get to know the staff and the birds better. It is a wonderful facility and they do some really great work with these beautiful birds.