I took Ella, Hank and Jake to the 11th annual Eagle Fest at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. It's a one day Open House with all sorts of crafts for kids and educational programs for adults and kids alike.
They have a number of wildlife rescue organizations bring in their birds so that the public can view them up close as well as learn more about the animals. All of the birds we saw that day were rescued and rehabilitated from various injuries and were unreleasable into the wild.
The weather was pretty good Saturday (windy and chilly, but *not* raining) so the place was jam packed. They have an Eagle Prowl tour where you board a bus or van and drive around the refuge looking for bald eagles. Thankfully they supply a biologist or other expert along with high powered scopes and binoculars. We saw at least 20 eagles. Talk about cool. They're really big birds, like the size of a human toddler, but they can be hard to spot if you don't know what you're looking for. Once we saw at least a dozen of them, I felt like I was getting better at spotting them.
One of the activities they have for the kids is building blue bird houses. Hank needed to build one for a Cub Scout requirement so it was the first station we visited.
They also have two Raptor Cams. One is trained on an eagle's nest (3 babies in it right now!) and the other on an osprey's nest (currently empty but should have a resident any day now).
Dissecting owl pellets...kinda like a hairball from a cat. It's all the undigestable stuff stored in a pouch in the owl; when the pouch is full, he barfs it up. It's gross but cool because you can see what the owl ate by looking at the bones in the pellet. Gross but educational
It's a fun outing for the family, especially if you're interested in birding. It's also a good workout; I wore my Garmin and logged over 7 miles of walking.
Red Tail Hawk
The big wad of branches up in the tree is an eagle's nest
We had a great time and completed our busy but fun day with a trip to Sonic so I could indulge in a Cherry Limeade.
If you live in the area, you should check out the Eagle Fest. I think you'll be glad you did.