Coal­dale’s Birds of Prey still fly­ing

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Alberta - BY HEATHER CAMERON

Coal­dale has a spe­cial place which helps birds get their wings back.

The Al­berta Birds of Prey Cen­tre is lo­cated in the north­west sec­tion of Coal­dale.

Open from May 16 to La­bor Day Mon­day, the Birds of Prey Cen­tre is a wildlife res­cue cen­ter that of­fers en­vi­ron­men­tal learn­ing and bit of habi­tat en­hance­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Colin Weir, the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the Al­berta Birds of Prey Foun­da­tion, there are about 60 or 70 birds cur­rently on dis­play at the cen­ter and they are hawks, fal­cons, ea­gles, and owls.

“Vis­i­tors can hold birds, take pho­to­graphs, a few species of owls,” Weir said. “We have a trail where they can walk around and see birds in the aviary. We have a flock of ducks and peo­ple can buy food to feed them. We also do fly­ing demon­stra­tions ev­ery 90 min­utes with the birds.”

The cen­tre, Weir says, has been open to the pub­lic since 1991, but the Foun­da­tion has been do­ing vol­un­teer bird res­cue in Al­berta since 1983. Weir spec­u­lates that the cen­tre has res­cued ap­prox­i­mately a cou­ple thou­sand since start­ing the res­cue. There is about 15 staff dur­ing the sum­mer, Weir says, and another dozen vol­un­teers who help with var­i­ous tasks.

“The whole ex­pe­ri­ence is a lit­tle more like a be­hindthe-scenes tour of work­ing in con­ser­va­tion cen­ter,” Weir said.

In terms of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, Weir said that some birds might re­quire vet­eri­nary treat­ments; some are young ba­bies and need help to grow; while some are in need of food shel­ter and a place to re­cu­per­ate be­fore be­ing re­leased back into the wild.

Weir says the dif­fer­ence be­tween the He­len Schuler Na­ture Cen­tre in Leth­bridge and the Birds of Prey Cen­tre is that the Na­ture Cen­tre is gov­ern­ment funded. The Birds of Prey Cen­tre is fully funded by dona­tions and ad­mis­sion, so the Birds of Prey Cen­tre is very lim­ited in its re­sources.

Ad­mis­sion for 2018 was $12 for adults; $8 for se­niors; and $6 for 10 and un­der.

“The cen­tre de­pends on com­mu­nity sup­port,” Weir said. “We al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate any dona­tions. If peo­ple want to sup­port us in the fu­ture, that's al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated and they can al­ways con­tact us on our web­site about that. This is the only wildlife res­cue cen­ter south of Cal­gary.”

File pho­tos

The Al­berta Birds of Prey Cente in Coal­dale re­habs and looks af­ter birds of prey but are also known to have do­mes­tics (be­low).

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