On Tuesday, November 14th, our class had the opportunity to meet with Wild Ontario! We learnt a lot about Raptors!
First, we met Kyle Homer who is the coordinator of this program and learnt a little about Wild Ontario and what they’re all about. Wild Ontario actually first started out as a rescue and rehabilitate clinic run out of the Ontario Vet College back in the 1980’s. Unfortunately, due to funding, when the university needed to cut their budget they had to close this program as it was expensive and it wasn’t creating any profit. Following this, a group of volunteers decided to change the program and make it about educating the public about Raptors, why you shouldn’t try to domesticate them and what you can do to help.
Following the brief history of Wild Ontario, Kyle passed around some bird feet and wings for us to take a closer look at. Fun Fact: a Great Horned Owl is the second strongest owl with a crushing power that ranges from 200 up to 500 pounds per square inch, or ten times the grip strength of an average human hand.
The first bird we met with was an adorable Kestrel named Artemis. A Kestrel is North America’s smallest raptor, who’s often mistaken for a songbird, just due to their size.
As for Atermis’ story, Wild Ontario believes that she was stolen out of her nest and someone decided to try and keep her as a pet. Due to this, she has no fear of cages or people, nor does she know how to catch her own food, and this makes her non-releasable. Now, Artemis spends her days educating the public so that more people will choose to admire from a distance.
Then we met with a majestic Peregrine Falcon by the name of Chinook and we learnt that there are two pretty cool facts about them. The first fact we learnt was that Peregrine Falcon’s have a very fast dive speed; they can reach over 200 miles per hour. The second fact we learnt about them is that they are one of the most widely spread species across the world; they’re found on every continent except Antartica.
Chinook was deemed non-releasable because she has an injured wing that never healed properly. This happened when she was just starting out, on one of her first flights. Chinook crashed to the ground and injured her wing.
If you’re ever walking downtown, take a look at the top of Rivermill Condos, there’s a Peregrine Falcon that nests there.
Following Chinook, we were acquainted with a hot Broad-winged Hawk named Whistler. Whistler had a similar story to Artemis, she also was a “Human Imprint” case. Human Imprinting is when the bird believes that the human who took them out of their nest is their mother. They believe then that they are also a human, and so they aren’t afraid of humans and are unable to hunt for themselves.
Fun Fact: Whistler is 19 years old.
Broad-winged Hawk’s are long-distance migrants, they migrate in very large flocks called “kettles”. They soar through pockets of warm air, this allows them to conserve energy by using the rising currents and columns of air to gain “lift” and allow them to fly without flapping their wings.
After Whistler, we met a gorgeous Red Tailed Hawk by the name of Freya. Freya doesn’t have a story like the others, she was picked up by the Toronto Wildlife Center with severe feather damage as if some of her feathers had been burnt off. Once she had healed, she was released wasn’t leaving the area and would follow the volunteers around on their rounds. This was indicative that she also was a Human Imprint and unfortunately, she was considered non-releasable.
Red Tailed Hawks, we learned, are very conservative hunters. They attack slowly, it is a controlled dive with their legs outstretched. That way if they miss their prey, they do not expend a lot of energy and are able to continue hunting.
And finally, we met a brilliant Barred Owl named Mowet, because the show just wouldn’t be complete without an Owl. Mowet has a pretty sad story as well, he was hit by a car and he suffered brain damage due to the impact. He slowly started to get better and they were debating a release when they found an old injury to his wing and so this combined with his brain injury, he was deemed non-releasable.
A Barred Owl makes an interesting hooting call that sounds like he’s singing “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”
If you want to get involved with the organization this is their website: http://www.wildontario.ca/index.html 🙂