World Bird Sanctuary Live Raptor Show – Starved Rock State Park

This is the third time we’ve watched the World Bird Sanctuary’s live raptor show at the Illinois Audubon Society’s Bald Eagle Weekend, but this was by far the best for photography.

First up was probably our favorite raptor in the world, the Harris’s Hawk. This is Sheldon and he flew over the crowd’s heads, causing an eruption of “oohs” and “ahhs”.

Harris's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

Next up was Turk, the Turkey Vulture. Some people call these fine birds “ugly” and “gross”. They do a lot for the ecosystem by cleaning up dead animals. We think they are just plain cool.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

All of the birds that were in the show are rehabbed birds and trained to be in front of the public. They are a great resource for educating and promoting bird conservation.

This Great-horned Owl was found as an egg in a factory and hatched at the World Bird Sanctuary. His name is Coal.
Great-horned Owl

To the delight of everyone, he leaned forward and gave out a soft hoot.
Great-horned Owl

Making his first public appearance was Jet Lee, an American Kestrel that needed some persuasion to fly over the crowd.
American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

From where we were seated it was a bit difficult to catch the birds in flight. But Goblin, the Barn Owl made a few ghostly passes.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Of course, being a foot away from this gorgeous nocturnal bird made up for any photographic difficulties.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Another fascinating bird was the Bateleur an African serpent eagle. The power of this bird’s wings could be felt from across the room.

Bateleur (serpent eagle)

Bateleur (serpent eagle)

The star of the show was Patriot, a magnificent Bald Eagle and living proof of just how wrong Benjamin Franklin was in thinking a Wild Turkey would make a better national symbol.

"Patriot" the Bald Eagle

"Patriot" the Bald Eagle

"Patriot" the Bald Eagle

"Patriot" the Bald Eagle

We highly recommend everyone attend this or similar raptor shows. Having such powerful, beautiful birds fly so close their jesses* touch you is an experience like no other.

*thin straps, traditionally made from leather, used to tether a hawk or falcon in falconry

12 thoughts on “World Bird Sanctuary Live Raptor Show – Starved Rock State Park

  1. In another lifetime I was an intern with the World Bird Sanctuary – your post took me back to those days of doing educational programs and flying raptors. The Harris Hawks were always my favorite to fly, though Barn Owls and kestrels came close. And handling some of the exotic birds was an amazing experience, I’m still hoping to see some of those species in the wild. Great post!
    -Mike

  2. Mike – That is so awesome!! I can only imagine how fun it would be to get to handle the birds. They are so magnificent.

  3. Wow, great photos and what an awesome experience. About the only time I’ve been almost that close to raptors was years ago at the falconer’s show at the Texas Renaissance Festival. And then half the birds were too spooked by either the wildly-colored costumes or (more likely) the beer-enhanced volume of the crowd to do any flyovers or stay still long enough to really get a good look at them. I’ll have to look into what programs are available in the Houston area.

  4. In the last photo for Goblin, it looked like it was smiling. Cute.

    Love all the pictures. Hope I can attend something similar in the future.

  5. Great photos! We attended the program on Sunday and unfortunately Goblin only made one pass over the audience before a piece of food got stuck on her beak and she was too distracted to fly anymore. We got a great performance from Jet though! He was very bold and flew all the way across the room a couple of times. We could tell the sanctuary volunteers were really proud of him.

  6. That’s fantastic! The Harris’ hawk is gorgeous… the Kestral is cute, the Turkey Vulture is hot with it’s silver feathers 🙂 and the Eagle is just incredible. The exotics were well, exotic!

  7. Down here we have both turkey & black vultures & I love both species. Nothing soars more gracefully, certainly.
    I always enjoy a good raptor show. Down here that tends to be a falconry exhibit at the local Renn faire. SO awesome!

  8. We are hosting the WBS in Shelbyville, IL at the Chautqauqua Auditorium on October 4, 2009. There are two shows, 1:00 and 3:00p. You can go to our website at http://www.shelbyvillechautauqua.com for more information about how to get tickets. It is sure to be a great experience and proceeds go to the restoration of the Chautauqua Auditorium, a 106 year old structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  9. Hello, We would like to know if we can hire you to bring and show your eagle to our audience.
    We use Eagles as symbol of freedom and it would be very nice for many people to see a real eagle.
    Please call us back at 954 854-2432 or
    send an email at megacorpmarketing@gmail.com.
    Thanks

  10. John – you’ll have to contact the World Bird Sanctuary directly. We have no affiliation with them here at Birdfreak.com other than reporting on the event we attended.

  11. Do you know of any raptor experts in Dallas, TX? I’m an author in need of information for an upcoming book (fiction).

    In advance, thank you for any referrals you could offer.

    Warm regards,

    Elisa

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