On Sunday, February 1, my friend Carol and I attended the Smith Mountain Lake State Park program entitled "Raptors of Virginia." The program lasted one short hour; I could have stayed at least two more.
Master Falconer Robb Herbst treated us to a great Power Point presentation on birds of prey. As his teenage daughter Aviane brought a live barn owl into the room, Mr. Herbst gave us camera nuts permission to snap as many photos as we wished. Never before had I seen the incredible beauty of a "plain" old barn owl, much less been privileged to photograph one. I was in heaven! And my snapping finger stayed busy. I learned that barn owls are monogamous ~ I like that! ~ and are thought to mate for life ~ I like that, too!
Aviane holding a barn owl.
While Aviane walked around the room with her owl, her younger brother Wolfie brought in a kestrel, sometimes called a sparrow hawk. The kestrel is the smallest North American falcon and the most common. My finger couldn't stop; it just kept clicking away on my camera.
Wolfie holding a kestrel
The last bird of prey to enter the room was a magnificent red-tailed hawk perched on Robb Herbst's arm. He (the hawk) wasn't bothered at all by cameras flashing. Neither was Herbst. I was fascinated by this incredible bird.
Herbst's red-tailed hawk, a male.
While in my kayak a few months ago I snapped about 50 pictures of a red-tailed hawk dining on a snake on the lake's shore. Herbst's hawk had a large bill with yellow. Mine had the large bill, but no yellow. Maybe mine was a female.
Master Falconer Robb Herbst is Director of Education for Friends of Philpott, Inc. For more information on Friends of Philpott and Philpott Lake, go to www.friendsofphilpott.com.
Labels: barn owl, birds of prey, kestrel, Philpott Lake, red-tailed hawk, Robb Herbst, Smith Mountain Lake State Park