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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Center for Birds of Prey

A Christmas present from neighbors was some "Tourist in Your Own Town" passes. They are used during the tourist doldrums of January to maintain some traffic. The last post regarding Charlestowne Landing was one visit. Yesterday we drove up the coast on route 17 to the town of Awendaw. There we visited the Center for Birds of Prey. It's a non-profit using a lot of volunteer labor with the mission to rescue and return to the wild (if possible) raptors or birds of prey. In 2009 there were almost 400 with about a 50% return to the wild rate. Most had lost out in a conflict with a car. They do have a recently assigned non-raptor mission. They are also a federal avian oil spill center. They received some oil spill fines, and were asked to set up a treatment facility for birds that are victims of oil spills. They were selected for their location and their rehabilitation successes.
Basically, however, they only deal with the carnivores of the bird world. Since we spent a half a decade at the Air Force Academy, we have seen a lot of falcons and their performances. Most were peregrines, but we have seen every thing from kestrels to golden eagles. Yesterday was a bit different. We saw free flying owls and kites for the first time. An owl can fly low over your head and you will not hear a sound. Kites are birds that feed mostly on large flying insects, so their maneuverability and their ability to eat on the fly are different than most raptors. The last picture is a kite. We also learned more about the Cooper's hawk. Note that we live on Cooper's Hawk drive. The Cooper's hawk eats other birds, not rodents. It is a forest hawk. It doesn't soar over open fields. It, therefor, has smaller wings and is much more maneuverable than, say a redtailed hawk. The owl in the tree was taken while he(she?) was flying free. The kite picture is not as sharp as the others, but it was a challenge to catch him at all.
After the visit we went to the nearby Sewee restaurant. This place was a general store for fifty years and is now one of those iconic, down-home restaurants. Local, fresh seafood is their forte. Rustic it is. The rest rooms are entered from outside! Amongst other items, I had a few fried oysters that were simply outstanding. They were crisp and tasty on the outside and absolutely succulent on the inside.
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