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Gookooko'oog





Hutton the saw-whet owl really looks unreal - lyosha said that a lot of times people look at/past him and think he's a stuffed bird - I understand why!

After spending some more time at Jungle Cat World, we headed to the other side of Toronto to Mountsberg to visit the raptor centre there - and the awesome Amy (lyosha) who had invited us to meet the avian residents she manages.


If I had to pick one favorite bird at the centre it would be Tedd - this disabled barred owl (I am quite partial to barred owls...). Her story, like many of the birds is quite sad - due to major head trauma she has brain damage and a blind/destroyed eye. It is what makes her so placid and 'pettable' - raptors as a group are (in general) not birds to form the sort of bond with a keeper as say a parrot would - they are not 'cuddly' birds and internalize stress massively. Teddy tolerates people because of brain damage - not because she loves/is bonded to them. I know with most of my LJ here I'm preaching to the choir but I didn't want to make this look like a glamourous 'pet owl' Harry Potter experience. These are birds damaged due to human impact (car accidents, hunting, imprinting, etc.) and being given a permanent place to live out their lives and become educational ambassadors at the park.

Great horned owls are so gorgeous!


One of the resident bald eagles.

Fish beak! Pagwa, a juvenile female bald eagle.

It was so much fun to watch Amy and Pagwa together. :)


Profile. Portrait.

Amy was awesome at getting the barred owl to hoot back at her - she make a really convincing mimic of the call. That's something I need to practice at, I need to learn more bird sounds.

Look at that face!! I have so much love for barred owls.


mbala managed to capture the translucency of the feathers on this barn owl. Their white feathers are so ghostly when they're in the right lighting.


Behind the scenes - Bernice is handling Otis and I've got Hutton.


Say what?

Oh, ok. ;)

I found Mountsberg Raptor Centre to be a wonderfully run place - I was very impressed. Major thanks to Amy for the memorable, thoroughly enjoyable trip!

(You can learn more about Mountberg and the birds at their Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/mountsbergraptorcentre )

After that, Bernice kindly hosted us at her place and showed us around her home (she has one of the most amazing collections of art and figures I've ever seen!) and we were sad to have to say goodbye so soon. I wish Toronto was closer and am definitely looking forward to going back to visit again (and hopefully spend more time!).

I've finally been updating my travel blog so I'll post catch-up pictures here in the next few weeks - I realized I never shared any of my photos of Europe/CZ or Fire Valley or a host of other neat places we've been over the years. :)

Now, off to Aikido! (ninjafox out)

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
youthculture
Feb. 26th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Oh my god that little saw-whet owl is adorable. They are the tiniest little predators, hee. Also, the shot of that barn owl on the fence is pretty neat!
ssantara
Feb. 26th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC)
Great pics! Do you mind if I snag a few for reference?
foxfeather
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
No, go right ahead! :)
(Deleted comment)
foxfeather
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:13 am (UTC)
All the thanks should go to mbala - he took these (most of the time photos I post here are courtesy of him!).
I have thought about eventually doing a sort of reference picture CD geared towards artists - turnarounds, closeups, paws/feet, etc. of some of the exotics. So I'm slowly collecting photos that either he or I take with that in mind. :)
(Deleted comment)
foxfeather
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
I didn't even realize that was the same weekend until someone mentioned it right before you - I'm so out of touch with the world! I will drop you a line if we go one other crazy ventures in the future, anything taking us east takes us pretty much right through your neck of the woods and the weekend trips always end up such a blast!
walkswithtigers
Feb. 26th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
I'm kind of bummed out I couldn't make it out there...I'll have to pay a visit sometime.

Excellent photos too. All the birds are amazing and the whet owls are adorable. =3
foxfeather
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
We are hoping to go back sometime during a summer so you'll have to join us then (or go out anytime and say hi to Amy since its relatively close for you :) - we miss Toronto (well, more you guys!) so much already!
corvus_animus
Feb. 26th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
You know, Zack has really been itching to visit Toronto...
edge_chan
Feb. 26th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
The photos are so gorgeous!!! <3

And omg Bernice's face xDDD
raveness_d
Feb. 26th, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
Envy.

Glad you enjoyed your vacation to our part of the world. ;)
archteryx
Feb. 26th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
I have seen socially bonded raptors in the Real World, but they are exceedingly rare. (That isn't counting vultures. I've had a vulture beg me for headscratches before!).

I have to wonder if the Barred Owl enjoyed the pets, even if half her instincts were turned off by the brain damage.

And yes, Saw-Whet Owls are unbearably cute for raptors. I've seen them in the field -- almost no bird can stand still and blend in quite like a Saw-Whet!
foxfeather
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
I've known a few bonded raptors as well, but they are always the exception to the rule. A friend of mine flew a redtail (wild caught amazingly!) that was absolute butter in her hands, just loved to be touched. It actually made it difficult for her to fly him because he'd much rather be getting attention than off working for a meal!
I was thinking about mentioning the vultures as well, they're in such a class of their own. :)
I figured it was probably best not to get too into it in a short post - most people read 'exception' as likely. : /
It was hard to tell if Teddy enjoyed my petting at all - she didn't react like a bird who was enjoying it (but she wasn't showing any signs of being bothered by it) - she didn't react much at all. Lyosha said it very well by saying that the raptors can learn to tolerate people - but tolerating, in general, is what it is.
I'm really happy there are places like Mountsberg, though, doing such great work by these birds and helping to make up a little for the impact that humanity/society has on them as a whole.
archteryx
Feb. 26th, 2010 11:40 am (UTC)
I'll have to tell you my Rough-Legged Hawk story sometime.

And yes, Mountsberg and raptor rehab centers in general are doing the work of the angels. They not only are helping birds which otherwise would have been simply smashed under humanity's steamroller, they're also teaching people about them -- I think they're a large part of why raptors went from being pests at best to being as widely admired as they seem to be now.

Besides, where else can you go eye to eye with a Redtail, have a Peregrine Falcon walk up to you to see if you're carrying any food, or have a vulture headbutt you asking for scritches? ^.^
shoomlah
Feb. 26th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
So cool- and the animated gif of Amy and Pagwa is just hilarious.

-C
foxfeather
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
It was so much fun to see them together and so in sync - Mbala has a set of I think a few dozen quick shots of them where they are making similar head gestures and turning - it's great. :)
trufflehog
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
that gif!! really enjoying all these photos- you go on such fun trips!
ursulav
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)
The first time I saw a saw-whet owl in a zoo, I about died of the cute. It looks like it should live on marshmallows and cute-on-a-stick.
corvus_animus
Feb. 26th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
Awesome photos! Thank you for sharing! I'm glad you had such a good time! Looks like a great experience :D
moonvoice
Feb. 26th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
Eeeee leetle owls!
lyosha
Feb. 26th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
You are all welcome back any time at all! I'm glad you enjoyed-- hopefully I'll get to see you in October.:)

shockwave77598
Feb. 26th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
Otis thinks, "I'mma gonna devour all of you! My victims!"
chenneoue
Feb. 26th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
They are so beautiful! lol, I love the animated ones you've been posting. XD
corvidophile
Feb. 26th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
i could just hug and squeeze and snorgle Hutton all day! how freakin' adorable :D

all the birds are very cool though :)
peachtales
Feb. 26th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
How cool!
cesarin
Mar. 16th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
sad story about that poor owl, they're gorgeous!
and that part where the eagle was following Amy's head movement was hilarious XD
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )