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Raptor Adventures - January Pt. 2

Carolyn, our local falconer friend, alerteed us to a wonderful seminar hosted by wildlife photographer Neil Rettig and his harpy eagle, Cal.
It was my first time seeing a harpy up so close outside of a zoo. They are such spectacular birds!

Neil Rettig is a famous wildlife photographer and falconer. He has worked with National Geographic and made the film 'Harpy, spirit of the ceiba tree' and worked on Raptor Force. He is also a long time falconer and flies Cal as a hunting bird.

Neil actually lives in Wisconsin and has a special heated mews for Cal, since tropical eagles aren't built for our midwestern winters.

Huge bird, impressive wingspan! Being a male, Cal is actually a small harpy.

Look at that crazy neck!

Neil uses Cal to run educational seminars across the country, promoting conservation.

Enough of this already!

The best part of the seminar was when Neil was explaining what harpy eagles eat in the wild - a variety of food but especially sloths and small primates. At that moment someone's five year old went running across the front of the auditorium - Cal took one look at the girl, hunkered down, and leaped. He was leashed, of course, but it was incredibly amusing. Small primates indeed. ;)
The seminar was wonderful, it was hosted at the Eagle Bluff Nature Center in southern Minnesota as part of their Dinner on the Bluff series. Highly recommended if you're in the area!
It was a wonderful, raptorful month!


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 23rd, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
What a bad-ass bird.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
That is an amazing looking bird :O Not that the red tail from your previous raptor adventure wasn't, but wow. I love that Neil is wearing matching colours too :D
Feb. 23rd, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
Oh, how I would love to have that bird on my fist.

I am lucky that I get to work with Red Tailed Hawks, Swainson Hawks, and other raptors.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Dude thats sooo badass. I wish we lived near! My dad and I are working on his muse right now. We have the building, but still need to renovate the inside and make the weathering yard. He passed his test this summer so next summer we should be catching our bird! I will probably apprentice once he becomes a general falconer, but I'm just excited to learn with his for the time being. Good luck with your falconry as well!!
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
That is really neat! It's really an incredible hobby - I look forward to hearing more about your adventures with it as well. :)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
What a dapper looking fellow! Like the bird was stuck on his arm by mistake XD
Feb. 23rd, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
Hope ya' don't mind if I grab those photos for my reference files!
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
Don't mind at all! :)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
Amazing bird!

I love the E.T. pic. (the third one) Hee hee hee hee...
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
Haha, I love how you can tell that it's a hunting bird just by looking at photos. I would not have the guts to do an ed demo with a bird that keen! Gorgeous.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, he had a really good relationship with Cal, that was obvious - and he also was quite strong to be able to hold him for so long and deal with that bate (wow... that bate) when the harpy leapt after the child. It was neat to see both him and a local golden eagle falconer who said, in a nutshell, - if you want it, work hard enough, obsess enough, and you can accomplish anything. Even flying a harpy in Wisconsin. :)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
This is the kind of bird I imagine David Bowie having.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
Beautiful bird.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
I wonder if there's a saying that falconers start looking like their birds or visa versa ;)

That is one impressive harpy eagle. That must have been so cool to see one up close!

Edited at 2011-02-23 04:14 am (UTC)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
The evil side of me almost wished that the Harpy WASN'T leashed. ;)

He truly is a beautiful creature... and Cal too. ;)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC)
Heheee! Yeah, I can't believe how irresponsible so many parents are, this sort of thing happens at almost every educational wildlife event I've been to - why the heck do people think it's ok to just let their children run amok with no control whatsoever? So dumb!
Feb. 23rd, 2011 04:39 am (UTC)
Oh wow, what beautiful photos and an amazing bird. That must have been quite a thing to see! Thank you for sharing these.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 04:44 am (UTC)
Also, I note that in all of these photos, bird and handler are mirroring each other's gestures and body language. Those two have a very happy and successful bond; how impressive.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Harpies! :D!!! Amazing.
Feb. 23rd, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
Great pics! Beautiful bird!
Feb. 23rd, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
Beautiful bird! I'll have to look into that place in the spring when it warms up, might have to make a road-trip down there sometime to test some new lenses.

Also: thanks again for finding time in your schedule for a visit last night, it was really great getting to touch base with you two! Am really looking forward to chasing some trout if everything goes well in the spring now!
Feb. 24th, 2011 02:55 am (UTC)
I'm amazed!
Thanks for visiting! Trouts are going to be quite an adventure. I vaguely remember someone mentioning catching trouts with bare hands, I am not sure if it can be done, it is a legend, or just failing memory.
Feb. 27th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
Gorgeous bird! Also, in regards to your recent falconry exploits, I think you might like this. http://www.oglaf.com/badfalcon/
Feb. 27th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)
Jealous! That is so awesome! I love that documentary. Must of been great to see him in person.. And I didn't know one could legally own a Harpy. That's amazing.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )