HUNTERSVILLE–What do you know about raptors?
No, not those frightening dinosaurs from the movie “Jurassic Park,” but raptors, as in birds of prey.
You may know that they have keen eyesight, large hooked beaks and sharp talons. But do you know the most common cause of raptor injuries?
“Car collisions,” said Michele Miller Houck, community relations director for Charlotte Raptor Center in Huntersville. “You do see some gunshot wounds, but collision is the primary cause.”
Houck said some people throw apple cores and other food products out car windows, which attract small rodents that lure raptors closer to roads.
“They will focus on the prey, come down very quickly, and not even see a car,” Houck said.
Fortunately, CRC has a team of medical experts and handlers trained to treat birds of prey. The nonprofit supports the rehabilitation and release of raptors. Its on-site hospital receives around 850 injured or orphaned raptors a year and can serve 50-200 at once.
An injured raptor will receive a physical evaluation that might involve x-rays, blood work or an eye exam.
Once the raptor is on the road to recovery, it is placed into a flight cage where it must demonstrate its ability to fly and hunt. Only then can it be released back into the wild.
It successfully releases healed raptors around 70 percent of the time.
Those that cannot be released may be placed in an educational facility, like the three-fourth mile outdoor nature trail at Latta that features more than 25 species.
You can peer into the golden yellow eyes of Estrella, a spectacled owl, or study the features of a graceful, yet fierce American bald eagle known as Lady CLT. There’s also an interesting exhibit of corvids – ravens, crows and magpies.
“All of our programs include conservation messages, with one of our main ones being about litter having a direct impact on the species we see coming to our rehabilitation center,” said Natalie Childers, programs director for CRC.
Want to go?
Carolina Raptor Center is located at 6000 Sample Road inside the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. To learn more visit www.carolinaraptorcenter.org or call 704-875-6521.