Coming from the New York City area, we don’t see too many bald eagles where we live, especially in the wild. A visit to Alaska, I was assured, would afford us plenty of opportunity to do so. To give us a head start, we made our way to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka with the boys for an up-close look at these majestic birds.
After a 20-minute introductory video (a good way to get kids’ attention), we learned this volunteer-run educational Center not only houses a nice variety of indigenous birds for display, it also serves as a medical clinic for rehabilitating injured birds for (hopeful) release back into the wild.
To make things a little more entertaining for the kids, many of the feathered residents were cleverly named, including: “Gandalf” the Great Horned Owl; “Pele” the Peregrine Falcon; “Tootsie” the Northern Saw-wet Owl; and “Sitka” the Bald Eagle. Unfortunately, "Sitka" is non-releasable after being hit by a car and permanently losing her ability to effectively hunt for prey.
Although it’s sad to hear the stories of how and why the birds arrived at the Center, it’s a great opportunity to see them so close-up, especially the bald eagles (hence, the impressive photo). We were all amazed at how big they are.
The highlight was watching one of the eagles souring around the indoor aviary with its impressive wing-span. There were smiles all around when our guide told us it would be released in the coming week. Now that’s something worth coming back to see!