If you are near the Cowichan area, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest Raptors Centre in Duncan. It’s a fantastic experience for anyone evenly remotely interested in birds of prey and amazing for kids. We have been there a few times now and always thoroughly enjoy ourselves.
A local group of biologists and falconers created the centre in hopes of bringing people closer to birds of prey. They want to make the general public aware that these birds are so much more than just predators. The centre was built to educate, illuminate and encourage a sense of personal responsibility for the future of these magnificent birds. With this better understanding, we see that they are an essential part of the delicate ecological balance of our planet.
When wandering around any animal exhibit, whether at a zoo or otherwise, I can’t help but feel saddened by the small enclosures they have. Unfortunately, the Raptors Centre is not much different.
However, one should remember that these birds are born in captivity to help educate the public and are accustomed to humans taking care of them. They would most likely not fair well out in the real world anyway. And besides, I think any bird guaranteed a full meal every day, over having to scavenge and hunt for themselves, would most likely take the first option!
Not to mention, the birds at the Raptor Centre have plenty of opportunities to stretch their wings (see flying demonstrations below).
What You Can Expect to See
- American Kestrels
The Flying Demonstrations at the Raptors Centre
The highlight of any visit to the Raptors Centre is most definitely the flying demonstration! It is absolutely, positively, utterly fan-diddly-tastic!! I honestly can’t say enough good things about it.
The demonstration lets you get up close and personal with these giant winged beauties while impressively informative staff explains how amazing and essential raptors are.
While spectators sit on a benched seating area at the edge of a field, staff call the birds in one at a time to land on their gloved hands. This call often results in the birds flying so close to your head you can feel the tips of their wings across your hair. Whether in the front row of benches or the back, you have a spectacular view of these magnificent creatures.
On top of having ample opportunity to gawk at owls, eagles, falcons, hawks and vultures, you walk away with more knowledge about raptors than you ever thought possible. For instance, did you know an owl can hear a mouse’s heartbeat under four feet of snow?
During the presentation, you witness the joy these fine feathered friends bring to their handlers, as each raptor has a unique personality. It’s easy to see that the raptors are much-loved by the staff. This evidence of care and admiration makes up for any lack of attention to detail in the bird’s enclosures.
The handlers are also incredibly knowledgeable, helpful, charismatic, friendly, funny and just downright awesome. Although they can’t possibly outshine the birds of prey, they most certainly hold their own.
For those who fall in love with these amazing creatures (it’s easy to do after a visit here), the centre offers extra-special experiences one can enjoy.
There are opportunities to walk through the woods with a hawk or look into the eyes of an owl while holding it in your gloved hand.
No matter what experience you choose, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close to raptors.
If this is something you think you may be interested in, please check out what the centre has to offer by heading to their website and reading more about these “Hands-On Experiences.”
The centre also offers summer camps and birthday party experiences for kids!
Hours of Operation
Summer Hours (Mid-June until Early September), the centre is open daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Flying demonstrations happen at 10:30, 12:30, 2:30 & 4:30.
Fall Hours (September & October) – Monday to Friday from 10:30 am – 3:00 pm, with flying demonstrations at 11:30 & 1:30. On the weekends, the center is open from 10:00 – 3:30, with flying demonstrations at 10:30, 12:30 & 2:30.
Spring Hours (Mid-March to Mid-June) – Monday to Friday from 10:30 am – 3:00 pm, with flying demonstrations at 11:30 & 1:30. On the weekends, the center is open from 10:00 – 3:30, with flying demonstrations at 10:30, 12:30 & 2:30.
Please check their website for up-to-date times and entry fees.
The Pacific Northwest Raptors Centre is located at 1877 Herd Road in Duncan.
As mentioned above, if you are anywhere in the area – heck, even if you are in Victoria, Nanaimo or Parksville – it’s well worth visiting the Raptors Centre in Duncan.
Just don’t forget to bring your camera!
Have you been? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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