The echoing call of a Fish Eagle beckons you when you stop at the Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre in Mpumalanga. It puts you in a trans-like state, invites you in and leads you past dozens of South African raptors.
Magdali, Ryan and Adian, the falconers at Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre, passionately talk about the birds, their behaviours and their rehabilitation. They rehabilitate and release about 200 birds a year; some are injured, some are blind, some have a future and others are full time residents.
The daily presentations (10h30 and 14h30) put the birds’ needs first. These presentations are part of the birds’ rehabilitation and to fly or not to fly is up to each individual raptor. Some disappear and become less than a speckle in the sky while others make close calls when it comes to landing. Owls, eagles and falcons roam the sky with the freedom to roam on forever.
If you look deeply into the eyes of a raptor time will stand still. It’s a spiritual experience and a magical moment when that mass of feathers heavily lands on your hand. You get mesmerised by magnetic orange-yellow-black eyes, drawn in by captivating beauty. The seconds become never-ending, the minutes feel like hours, and before you know it wings gracefully pass your cheek and the raptor majestically flies away.
While one twirled away in the wind we talked about human interaction, imprinting and the knowledgeable falconers debunked a few myths.
Did you know that it’s just a myth that a baby bird won’t be accepted and cared for by its parents once a human has touched it?
Information from Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre: What’s Our Responsibility When We Find a Bird?
If you are not a knowledgeable falconer please don’t assume that you can mother a bird back to health; you will, unfortunately, cause more harm than good.
If the bird is injured: Put it in a small cardboard box (slightly bigger than the bird), on a towel and make a few ventilation holes in the sides and top. Place the box in a dry, warm and quiet area, notify someone equipped to handle the situation and also take note of the location where you found the bird and the circumstances. Refrain from giving the bird any food or water. If you’re wondering what to do with a bird that’s not injured, please visit the website of Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre for more information.
Respect nature. Respect raptors.
Disclaimer: The trip to Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre was part of a #MeetSouthAfrica road trip sponsored by South African Tourism; views expressed are my own.