Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Soaring with the Eagles at the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation in Coaldale, Alberta

Soaring with Eagles


Where can you feel the wind from a fully grown Bald Eagle's wings on your face? Even better, where can you give a Golden Eagle a shower on a hot summer's afternoon?

The Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation is the place where I realized a childhood dream of being up close and personal with eagles and other birds of prey. Colin, the proprietor of the facility allowed us to give a Golden Eagle a cooling shower. I also saw how accurately a fully grown Bald Eagle land on his arm, between a group of people. I felt the wind from the birds 85" long wingspan when he swooshed by, during the performance.

It all happened this summer during our visit to the foundation's rescue and conservation center in Coaldale, just east of Lethbridge.



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The Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation is Alberta's first privately licensed raptor rescue and conservation organization. It's been operating since 1982. The facility is located two hours south of Calgary in the heart of Canada's wild prairies and 10 minutes east of Lethbridge. You can visit the center during the summer months to get a closer look at the magnificent birds and to learn more about the work that goes into rescue and conservation.

Although Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation is Alberta based, the organization's environmental contributions extend far beyond the province of Alberta. It released offspring from their Burrowing Owl breeding program in all four western Canadian provinces. At the facility, they've also cared for injured birds from locations ranging from Ontario to British Columbia, and even Canada's Arctic.

The Foundation is a non-political organization with a simple strategy. According to Colin Weir, the founder, the focus is to initiate hands-on practical solutions which directly benefit wildlife and our environment. Colin mentioned that although it sounds idyllic to be amongst these majestic birds every day, they do not receive any government or operating subsidies to help them in their work.

He calls it his happy place and his biggest liability. The Foundation relies solely on donations in addition to people generously donating their time. It makes the work of the organization so much harder. They spend 100% of all donations on programs and projects that directly benefit the wildlife and habitats they strive to conserve.

Observations


There are no words that can describe the experience we've had with Colin. Look at the video and photos below. We highly recommend the visit.

The highlight of the day was when Colin released a rehabilitated bird, and we could film the action with our cameras in slow-motion.

If there is such a thing as a spirit animal, then the Golden Eagle is mine. The majesty that is part of these birds is breathtaking. Even more when you see them up close, and you realize how big they are, how fragile they are on the ground and understand the power they exhibit when you see them in flight. You can experience all of this in a matter of minutes at the center.

The visit to Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation was not only a highlight of our trip to Lethbridge. It was a special day I will cherish for the remainder of my life.

Hendrik van Wyk
Spirit Cowboy

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Photos

Two Birds

Reflecting

Majestic

Epic

Where's the Barn


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