The Raptors of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Every summer we welcome Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey to our park. Raptors Ridge is run by Kim and Karen Kamstra who train and rehabilitate the raptors and is home to 28 hawks, owls, and falcons. When they’re not working in the colder months, the birds relax here at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park from mid June through to early October. During the Fall and Winter, the raptors are either educating or getting rid of problematic birds like seagulls, grows, and starlings, and enjoy doing some hunting.
So what exactly is a raptor?
A raptor is a predatory bird that has 8 razor sharp talons and a long hooked beak that’s used for tearing (often referred to as “knife and fork”). In BC we have 14-16 species of owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, vultures, and osprey. At home, the raptors get a special diet of organic chicken, quail, mice, and vitamins, and in the Fall and Winter they get duck, pheasant, and rabbit. Unlike the birds at Raptors Ridge, wild raptors are not handed a meal on a daily basis. Wild raptors hunt for their food and are excellent at conserving their energy (also referred to as “notoriously lazy”) since every time they fly they use up valuable energy. Raptors will eat almost anything that moves from mice and moles, to other birds, and sometimes even domesticated animals like cats and dogs. Since food in the wild is not readily available there is high territorial competition. About 80% of raptors die within the first year, while the remaining 20% only make it to about 2 or 3 years old.
Who are the Birds of Prey? Let’s meet a few of them!
First up are the trio of Harris Hawks; Storm is 11 years old, Frankie is 10 years old, and Victor is 5 years old. Storm is the acrobatic flier of the group and loves to catch his food mid-flight. Frankie who is Storm’s little brother is the runner and loves to strut his stuff flying the field. He also loves to try and catch squirrels while at the park. Last but not least, Victor is the youngest of the clan and is an up and coming star. He’s laid back but has a very sneaky side to him.
Chico (Cheeky for short) is a Barred Owl. He’s 5 years old and loves to sneak up on you. He’s also quite the chatter box!
The newest addition to the family is Mr. Magoo. He has one of the biggest attitudes of the bunch. Although he’s a Cooper’s hawk, it seems that the smaller the bird, the bigger the attitude. Then there’s Avro aka “Monster” who is a Peregrine Falcon. If you’re not careful when he’s flying, he’ll fly at you like a bullet and take a cheap shot if you’re not paying attention!
What’s it like to take care of all those birds?
Currently Raptors Ridge has 28 raptors and none of them like to play with each other so both Kim and Karen have to take turns with each and every one of them every day. This includes weighing, flying, and feeding them, as well as cleaning their private bedrooms and fresh bath water. Taking care of the raptors is a lot of work! They start from first thing in the morning and finish in the late afternoon.
The birds of Raptors Ridge are at the park every day until September 5th, and will be here on weekends until Thanksgiving (October 10th).