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Unruffle Your Feathers at Winter Raptor Fest 2012

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Winter Raptor Fest 2012

The Annual Festival isn’t Just for the Birds

Winter Raptor Fest 2012Bird lovers from across the Northeast will flock to the 2012 Winter Raptor Fest on Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11, at the Gallup Ridge Farm in Fort Edward.

Celebrating its second year, Raptor Fest is a collaboration between local businesses and community entities, such as the Washington County Tourism Association (lead sponsor), and the Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA (Important Bird Area). It’s been over a decade since the unique site received the National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Area, or IBA, designation. IBAs are protected areas dedicated to preserving the habitat of certain bird populations universally important to the world ecosystem. Several endangered species presently reside in the Washington County IBA; its grasslands, for instance, are critical to the survival of short-eared owls in New York State. Nearly a dozen other threatened, at-risk and rapidly declining grassland bird species are supported as well, including northern harriers, upland sandpipers, eastern meadowlarks and grasshopper sparrows.

Participating organizations at this year’s event will include the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), the New York State Wildlife Rehab Council, New York State DEC, the Wildlife Institute of Eastern NY; the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehab Center; Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA; and North Country Search & Rescue.

Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see wild bird species such as hawks and short-eared owls in their natural environment, while learning more about how to support efforts to protect endangered bird species in the area.

Saturday’s featured presentations include an introduction to endangered, threatened and at risk birds of the IBA (10am); a demonstration of the physics of flight by native raptors (11am/3pm); a discussion of birds of prey & wildlife rehabilitation (12pm); a look at the Short-eared Owl Monitoring project (1pm); and silent wings with live birds of prey (2pm).

Sunday’s events include a discussion of birds of prey & wildlife rehabilitation (10am); a demonstration of the physics of flight by native raptors (11am); the child safe “Hug a Tree” program (12pm); respiration & migration featuring live birds of prey (1pm); an introduction to endangered, threatened and at risk birds of the IBA (2pm); and a demonstration of the physics of flight by native raptors (3pm).

Animals that are unable to be released back into the wild will be featured in all of the presentations.

A variety of other family activities will be going on as well, including: guided snowshoe walks (to be held with or without snow), horse-drawn sleigh rides (or wagon rides, weather dependent), children’s activities (arts and crafts and a touch table), food concessions (by Meme’s Snack Shack, Hicks Orchard and Harry’s Hot Dogs), a 50/50 raffle and 100% grass-fed Angus beef will be available, courtesy of Mack Brook Farms.

Keep in mind that there is a program fee $5, which is good for 1 VINS free-flight and 1 other live bird of prey program (limited seating is available); a free sleigh ride included with purchase of 2 or more. Admission is free for the Exhibitor barn, where you can meet the birds of prey as well as the educators.

For more information, visit

Dave Bower is Co-Publisher of The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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