Raptor Rapture in VA
February 16, 2014 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to find a place in the Northern Virginia area (within an hour's drive, ideally) where guests can interact with raptors/birds of prey (owls, hawks, falcons, etc). I've done several google searches but can't seem to find a place that lets people get up close and personal with the birds aside from one place that has occasional open houses but only on Sundays. We aren't available on weekends. It doesn't really matter if it's a wildlife sanctuary or some other type of bird-keeping situation. I saw the website for the Virginia Falconry Club, but it seems pretty "members-only", so I don't think that's an option. Any ideas?
posted by msbadcrumble to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Raptors Up Close, based in Berkeley Springs, WV, will come to you.
posted by candyland at 9:03 PM on February 16, 2014

The problem with being "up close and personal" is that birds of prey are dangerous. It's like being "up close and personal" with a wolf; you can get hurt.

What you really want is to find a falconry club. Maybe these guys can help.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:05 PM on February 16, 2014

Most falconers will not want to let you interact with their birds (in reference to the previous answer). I'm a little unclear on what you're looking for though. If you don't want to physically interact, then please disregard everything after this. Raptors are not domesticated in any sense of the word. They do not want to physically interact with anyone. Any place that will let you physically interact with a bird who doesn't know you is not an ethical place. I'm saying this as someone who worked for years in a bird colony, works in state and national parks, and worked in a zoo as an educator (and was specifically NOT allowed to work with our birds, only one of which was a raptor, who needed years to bond with someone and work with them). I also am a serious bird nerd aside from all of this. Please check out this previous question for more information about this.

If you just want to see a raptor up close, many rescue places will let you tour their premises for some kind of a fee, without touching the animal.
posted by primalux at 9:27 PM on February 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

The Raptors Up Close people definitely do events close to you as there's a photo of my old high school and I'm pretty sure I've been to their events. You could also probably ask for a list of their upcoming events/displays in the general metropolitan area if hiring them for a small group is prohibitive.

If you just want to learn more about them, the zoo used to have a rotating cast of rehab birds and you could get quite close to the cages and they'd explain about the birds and why they were there-- the Front Royal center may have other programs for members. If you just want to see awesome birds like bald eagles and ospreys in action, Mason Neck State Park is the best place. Wait a couple of months until it's warmer/fledgling season and if you like canoeing or kayaking (aka quiet manpowered boats), you should see some pretty incredible birds.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:51 AM on February 17, 2014

It's more than an hour's drive, but the Carolina Raptor Center near Charlotte, NC is pretty amazing.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:43 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

They have some raptors at the Luray Zoo. I was there with my son a few years ago on a day when we were the only two guests at the zoo. My son had (has) a pet snake and the owner Mark, upon learning my then 13 year old son was a fan of reptiles started taking things out the cages for him to interact with. Not sure if would do the same sort of thing with the raptors as they might be more dangerous than a 40 lb monitor lizard, but it might be worth asking.
posted by COD at 6:12 AM on February 17, 2014

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