Raptor Free-Flight Returns to Desert Museum

With cooler weather, the raptor free-flight program has returned to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. There are two shows each day at 10 am and 2 pm.

The morning flight features three to five birds which may include Chihuahuan Ravens, Barn Owls, Great Horned Owls, Ferruginous Hawks, Gray Hawks, Prairie Falcons, or Greater Roadrunners. The afternoon flight features a family of Harris’ Hawks.

The shows demonstrate the different behaviors of the birds and their hunting strategies. During the flights, some of the birds fly just inches over your head. After the flights, museum staff usually have the birds on their fist which provides another opportunity to get very close to the birds.

Raptors are birds that eat live prey and also have excellent vision, sharp talons or toenails, and hooked or curved beaks. The ravens and roadrunners are not considered raptors, but they do scavenge and hunt. The raven is an omnivore, and feeds on grains, cactus fruit as well as insects, other invertebrates, reptiles, and carrion. The roadrunner, a member of the cuckoo family, hunts snakes, large insects, lizards, rodents, and various small birds.

The free-flights will be presented each day, weather permitting, through April 11, 2011.


One comment

  1. If you havent’ seen Raptor free-flight, it’s not to be missed. It’s my favorite thing to see at ASDM. I’ve seen the Ravens (very cool. I want one.) the great horned owls and the Harris Hawks.
    The Harris hawks are fascinating. I had no idea they hunted in family packs until I saw them at Raptor Free-Flight. The other day I was out for a walk and a Harris hawk landed on a telephone pole in front of me. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought much of it, I see hawks all the time. But because I saw RFF, I stopped and started looking around for the “pack.” I spotted three others, two juveniles and a much larger bird which I took to be the mother since females are bigger than males I learned at RFF.
    They kept flying short bursts from telephone pole to telephone pole, tree to tree, saguaro to saguaro, hop scotching down and across the road. I stood and watched them for about a half-hour waiting for the kill but I couldn’t see what they were hunting and finally had to get going (I was drawing a crowd. Other walkers kept stopping to see what the tall fat man was looking at in the sky).
    It’s crap like that “moment” I shared with the hawks that can turn even the hardest heart into a conservationist. And that’s the value of the Desert Museum. I never would have stopped to look for the “pack” if I hadn’t learned about the Harris hawks at RFF.
    Which reminds me, I need to renew my membership this month.
    Thanks for the post, Jon.

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