It’s the eyes or is it the talons that make raptors the lord of the skies in Africa? Raptors up close.
I’d never paid too much attention to raptors… even after I was mesmerized by the grace of the falcon at my first flight show back in the 80’s. It wasn’t until many years later at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary (ABOPS) that I was hooked.
To show more than tell I hope you’ll enjoy these photos and video from our most recent visit to see the birds.
Bet you can’t help falling in love with these raptors too
“Raptors are exactly like you have your lions and impala on the ground. There is a whole ecosystem in the sky as well. We basically have the Big Cats of the birds. The birds of prey.” Jan, falconer at ABOPS tells the audience.
“Southern Africa has 81 different raptor species. This is double the amount found in America as well as the UK. Each of these countries only have about 40 raptor species each. Africa is very privileged to have so many. However, the sad part is, Africans really don’t know much about them.”
At ABOPS the audience is introduced to an ambassador from each species during the flight show. Jan points out how they fly differently, based on what they hunt. He talks about why they are important, what threats they face and the simple things everyone can do to help preserve them. As human populations expand we are moving into their areas. We are depleting and destroying their habitat.
The birds at ABOPS are all rescues. Each one can’t be released for some reason or another. Either due to human imprinting or irreparable injury. If for example a wing doesn’t heal just right so the raptor can hunt effectively the bird can’t be released. ABOPS is a forever home for the lions of the sky. A few of them, handpicked by Shannon, become ambassador birds.
The five stars of the flight show
Orion, the Long Crested Eagle, likes to strut his stuff. Especially his sexy hairdo.
Alpha, the Spotted Eagle Owl, flies without making a sound. Those tufts aren’t his ears.
Roxy, the African Goshawk, loves hiding in tall grass. That’s why she wears a bell.
YBK, the Yellow Billed Kite, is quite the acrobat and always noisy.
Tabu, the little Wood Owl, steals the show just because he is so small and cute.
Jan wraps up the show with this reminder,
“One thing we can give back to them after taking over their home is to look after them.”
Next time we’ll visit the vultures. Did you know they are really rather beautiful birds too? Several different unique species call ABOPS home.