The Travels of Tug 44

Winter Raptor Fest
Fort Edward, NY.

The Winter Raptor Fest, is produced by Laurie LaFond and the Friends of The Washington County Grasslands IBA each year in March. Thank you Laurie for a wonderful opportunity to see a terrific collection of Owls, Falcons, Hawks etc .. Raptors. One can walk right up to them for a good close look, as the birds are all uncaged.

Below are some of the photos I got during the 2014 event.

The American Kestrel is also known as the Sparrow Hawk. Beautiful colors! It's the smallest falcon in North America, and a particularly pretty one. They have a 2 foot wingspan. Dinner includes grasshoppers, lizards, mice and small birds.

This American Kestrel was quite a show off, he kept turning his back to me and spreading his wings and tail to show off his colors.

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal that exists, diving at 200 mph, with a top recorded speed of 242 mph. The wingspan is 2.5 to 4 feet. This one looks fast even when standing still. They prey mostly on medium sized birds, and pigeons are a favorite meal.

That's a Gyrfalcon ... this one is still young, but adults can have a 4 foot wingspan. They feed on other birds and rodents. I thought this one looked particularly fierce!

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is about the size of a large Robin, with a wingspan of 16 - 22 inches, which makes them one of the smallest owls. Their menu includes mostly mice and small rodents. I love those eyes, such a cutie!

VIDEO: After the event, I was looking at my photos, and noticed the baby Saw-Whet Owl had his eyes closed in some of the photos, so I decided to get silly, and created this little video from some of them.

These little guys are Screech Owls. They are one of the smaller Owl species, with adults growing to have about a 1.5 to 2 foot wingspan. Their prey includes mice, lizards and large insects. Their nests are in hollow trees and they are perfectly camoflauged against tree bark.

Yes, he's the Ugly Duckling of the Fest, but his Mom still loves him. He's a Turkey Buzzard, also known as a Turkey Vulture. They are scavengers, and are often seen soaring in lazy circles over road kill. There are no feathers on the head and neck, which would be fouled by their habit of sticking their head and neck far inside road kill to get the tastiest morsels. Notice the very large nostrils, you can actually look right thru them. They can hunt by smell as well as by sight.

Turkey Buzzards are huge birds with a 6 foot wingspan, but they won't bother you. They prefer their food dead before they find it.

Yes, the Turkey Buzzard does have some very large wings, perfect for gliding effortlessly. That forked stick in the background is used by the handler to help support his arm when the bird is perched on his hand.

- Click any photo to view full size -

The Eurasian Eagle-Owl is the largest Owl species with a wingspan of slightly over 6 feet. They are mostly nocturnal. They are native to Europe and Asia, this one was brought over as an import.

Eurasian Eagle-Owls hunt by watching from the trees, until something tasty hops by. Mice and small rodents are tasty, but a big rabbit or even a house cat is preferred.

The Great Horned Owl is one of the larger owl species in the Americas, with a wingspan of 3-5 feet. They feed on rabbits as well as mice and other small rodents. This one looks a little bit excited because he's being sprayed with water. The water keeps them cool and they really enjoy it.

Short-Eared Owls are a medium sized owl species, with a wingspan of 3 to 4 feet, though this one is still young. Their preferred prey is mice and voles.

The Great Gray Owl is the heaviest owl in the Americas and has a wingspan of about 5 feet. Mice, voles and small mammals are all on the menu.

The Aplomado Falcon is a small bird with extra-long wings, about a 3 foot wingspan. They are native to South America.

This is a male Snowy Owl. These beautiful birds winter in the Fort Edward Grasslands, and in summer they go up to the Arctic Circle. They are quite large, with a 4-5 foot wingspan. Their usual prey is mice and other small rodents.

The weather in Fort Edward in March is usually quite bitter and the taxi service sure looked good! Thank you!

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