Fort Edward Chamber of Commerce
Fort Edward, New York

Winter Raptor Fest

The Winter Raptor Fest is an annual event in Fort Edward NY, organized by Laurie LaFond and the Friends of The Washington County Grasslands IBA. It is a wonderful opportunity to see a terrific collection of Owls, Falcons, Hawks etc .. Raptors. The birds are all live and uncaged, and one can walk right up to them for a good close look.

The Winter Raptor Fest also includes various programs where the birds can be seen in free flight, it is a spectacular show.

The table by the front door is manned by Dr. Gordon Ellmers with a display of prints of his own wonderful bird photographs available for a nominal sum, and he even autographs them for you. Gordie is a much admired photographer, specializing in birds in the wild, and is the proprietor of the Fort Edward Animal Hospital.

All photos on this page were taken by Fred Wehner.

- Click any photo to view full size -

This is an American Kestrel also known as a Sparrow Hawk. Beautiful colors! It's the smallest falcon in North America, and one of the prettiest. They have a 2 foot wingspan. Their menu includes grasshoppers, lizards, mice and small birds.

This American Kestrel was quite a show off, he kept turning his back to me and spreading his wings and tail so I could admire his colors.

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet. It dives at 200 mph, with a top recorded speed of 242 mph. The wingspan is 2.5 to 4 feet. They prey mostly on medium sized birds, and pigeons are a favorite meal.

That's a Gyrfalcon ... this one is still young, but adults can have a 4 foot wingspan. They feed on other birds and rodents. I thought this one looked particularly fierce!

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is about the size of a large Robin, with a wingspan of 16 - 22 inches, which makes them one of the smallest owls. Their menu includes mostly mice and small rodents. I love those eyes!

These little cuties are baby Screech Owls. Adults grow to have about a 1.5 to 2 foot wingspan, making them one of the smaller owl species. Their prey includes mice, lizards and large insects. They make their nests in hollow trees and their feathers camoflauge them very well against tree bark.

Yes, this isn't the prettiest bird in the Fest, but his Mom still loves him. It's a Turkey Buzzard, also known as a Turkey Vulture. They are scavengers, and are often seen soaring in lazy circles over road kill. The head lacks feathers, which would be fouled by their habit of sticking their head and neck far inside road kill to get the tastiest morsels. Notice the very large nostrils, you can actually look right thru them. They can hunt by smell as well as by sight.

Turkey Buzzard are large birds with a 6 foot wingspan, but not to worry, they prefer their food dead before they find it.

Yes, the Turkey Buzzard does have some very large wings, perfect for gliding effortlessly. That forked stick in the background is used by the handler to help support his arm when the bird is perched on his hand.

- Click any photo to view full size -

The Eurasian Eagle-Owl can have a wingspan of slightly over 6 feet, making them the largest owl species. They are mostly nocturnal. They are native to Europe and Asia, this one was brought over as an import.

Eurasian Eagle-Owls hunt by watching from the trees, until something tasty hops by. Mice and small rodents are on the menu but a nice large rabbit or even a house cat is preferred.

The Great Horned Owl is one of the larger owl species in the Americas, with a wingspan of 3-5 feet. They feed on rabbits as well as mice and other small rodents. This one looks a little bit excited because he's being sprayed with water. The water keeps them cool and they really enjoy it.

Short-Eared Owls are a medium sized owl species, with a wingspan of 3 to 4 feet, though this one is still young. Their preferred prey is mice and voles.

The Great Gray Owl is the heaviest owl in the Americas and has a wingspan of about 5 feet. Mice, voles and small mammals are all on the menu.

The Aplomado Falcon is a small bird with extra-long wings, about a 3 foot wingspan. They are native to South America.

This is a male Snowy Owl. These beautiful birds winter in the Fort Edward Grasslands, and in summer they go up to the Arctic Circle. They are quite large, with a 4-5 foot wingspan. Their usual prey is mice and other small rodents.

The weather for the 2014 Raptor Fest was rainy, windy and quite bitter, and it sure was nice to see these guys arrive to pick me up! Thank you!

The rarest bird of all: Dr. Gordon Ellmers of Fort Edward Animal Hospital is a widely renowned bird photographer. He amazes us all with his photos taken in the Fort Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area. To see some of his amazing work, click here.

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