Not even the pouring rain could keep fans from visiting their hooked beak and sharp-clawed avian friends at the sixth annual Raptorama Festival held at the Salt Marsh Nature Center on Avenue U on Sunday, October 29th.
Over 100 people surrounded the roped-off area where a variety of raptors, which are carnivorous predatory birds, were shown by educators: Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR) founder Bobby Horvath; Littoral Society Northeast Director Don Riepe; NYC Audubon staff member Tod Winston; and volunteer Dennis Guiney.
The event, sponsored by the American Littoral Society, NYC Audubon, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, Gateway NRA and Marine Park Alliance, was especially popular among families with young children, but people of all ages were delighted to learn all they could about their fine-feathered friends. Each bird was taken around the ropes as their handlers took pictures with the crowd and talked about each bird’s history, habits and stories of rescue or rehabilitation.
Other than Augie, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, bred in captivity, all others were wild, but injured to the extent that they couldn’t be released back into their natural habitats. Included were the Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Raven, Peregrine Falcon, Barn Owl and other smaller birds of prey such as the Burrowing Owl, Merlin Falcon and Kestrel.
The Samstein family, who live nearby, attended for the first time and said it was worth it to come, even in the rain. “The kids are very interested in animals and learned a lot,” their mother said.
People came from everywhere as word spread by word-of-mouth and on the internet. Terry Sullivan, originally from Gerritsen Beach and now living in Staten Island, came for the fourth time.
“I’m happy that they do this because it makes so many more people aware of what’s in your neighborhood and community, and how important it is to give these birds their space and the habitats that they need,” Sullivan said.
Inside the Nature Center were various host tables and activities. Nature artist Wing Kong displayed her three-dimensional art mural made of found or discarded items. Kong was working with kids to make their own fabric art using paint and leaves to make their own bags.