Birds of prey star in Shaver’s Creek raptor shows

Tadzik Chlipalski looks at bird feathers at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center during a Meet the Raptors presentation on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.
Tadzik Chlipalski looks at bird feathers at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center during a Meet the Raptors presentation on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. CDT photo

Visitors to Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center have a few more weekends to get a close up look at raptors this year.

The center was not somehow transformed to “Jurassic Park.” Raptors refer to a specific type of bird of prey. They are called raptors because of the way they hunt. The word raptor comes from the Latin word rapere, which means “to grip, grab or carry away,” volunteer Carolyn Muse said.

“These birds use their beaks and claws to hunt for food,” she said.

From March until November every year, Muse and volunteer Rodney Brubaker bring two raptors out of their cages every Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., free of charge, in a program called Meet the Raptors. The pair usually perform two 30-40 minute programs on a regular afternoon. Besides the opportunity to see the birds, Brubaker and Muse present facts on the birds and answer questions from spectators.

Shaver’s Creek has 21 individual birds and each of the five species — owls, hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures — are represented, Muse said. The birds came to Shaver’s Creek from rehabilitation centers after they suffered eye or wing injuries, some hit by vehicles and others illegally shot at. Such injuries are “death knells” for birds of prey in the wild, Muse said. When staff at an animal rehabilitation center did all they could for the birds, the center became their permanent home, Brubaker said.

“Then we show them off and educate people with them,” said Brubaker, a volunteer at Shaver’s Creek since 1992. “It’s nice.”

Some of the birds have called the center home for awhile. The lifespan of a raptor is 10-13 years in the wild but they can live 20-30 years in captivity, Brubaker said.

Brubaker and Muse presented a short-eared owl and a broad-winged hawk at the presentation on Saturday. Presentations are usually held at an outdoor amphitheater, but Saturday’s presentation was indoors due to weather, Muse said.

Karol Chlipalski, who came to the area from Poland, and his family attended the second showing. Wildlife and opportunities to interact with them are much more abundant in Pennsylvania than in Poland, he said. He found the program informative, he said. His son Tadzik, 6, also enjoyed seeing the raptors.

“They’re good,” he said of the birds.

Presenting to children and answering their questions about wildlife is a nice part of the programs, Muse said.

“Even if they don’t study it when they get older, they have an awareness of what’s out there,” she said.

Different birds are shown to prevent putting too much stress on any of the animals and depending on availability, as some of the birds are taken to other locations for shows. Presentations will continue for three more weekends, with the last of the season scheduled for Nov. 23. The shows will resume next spring.