Our Visit to the Raptor Trust
On a snowy Saturday in February, we took a long drive with our moms to visit the Raptor Trust, a Raptor Rehabilitation Facility, located on the edge of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. There we saw different kinds of raptors or birds of prey, such as the barn owl, great grey owl, snowy owl, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and the Peregrine Falcon! All of these birds had been injured and treated at the facility. Some could never be rehabilitated because their injuries would never fully heal. One of the Peregrine males at the Raptor Trust had his wing amputated in order to save his life. He will live at the Raptor Trust for the rest of his days.
It takes many volunteers to keep the Raptor Trust running. Some volunteers clean the cages, some prepare the food and feed the animals, some help in the infirmary. Each year they hatch and feed hundreds of chicks. Many volunteers are used for "Baby Bird" season because the chicks need to be spoon fed 6 times a day or more.
What type of work do you do as a volunteer?
I mostly clean the cages. Even though I've been volunteering here since I was 17, the birds are still a little afraid of me. When I'm on one side of a cage, they move to the other side. I enter from the edge of the enclosure, and crouch down low to the ground to reduce stress on the birds.
What is your favorite bird here?
The Peregrines because they're beautiful, and also the Screech Owls, they're beautiful too!
How do you care for the chicks?
Well, first we spoon feed them different things like berries, puppy food, worms, and lobster pieces. Then we feed them from a dish when they're a little older. We let them get used to the outside world, then set them free when they're able to fly.
Do you know different ways that the veterinarians help the birds feel better when they are injured?
I'm not really a specialist in that, but I do know different birds have different diets depending on the condition they're in. There are different treatments for different birds too.
We talked a little bit with the people that fed the birds, but weren't able to ask their names because they were very busy. We asked them how often and what they feed the birds. They answered:
We feed the Peregrines half a quail each a day from the quail farm down the road. The eagles are fed a whole non-diseased pigeon. The other birds eat mice and rats from a local pharmaceutical company. They were the control animals in experiments, and because they are guaranteed to be disease free, we pay a lot of money for them.
The educators prepared a packet of materials for us, because the class we planned to attend was cancelled. We learned a lot anyway, and really enjoyed our visit to the Raptor Trust. Our thanks to the entire staff for their help!