submitted by Lynne Tyler
The annual Birds of Prey show returned to North Grenville this year, after a hiatus during COVID. Over 400 residents came to the arboretum to see the two presentations hosted by Friends of the Ferguson Forest and featuring Matthew Morgan from The Eyrie, a raptor conservancy group based near Peterborough.
Matt introduced the crowds to five wonderful birds of prey:
– Harris’s Hawk (often found in the deserts of the southwestern USA and far from home),
– Redtail Hawk (very much a local resident and often seen in North Grenville),
– Kestrel (a beautiful little guy also often seen in our skies or perched on wires),
– Great Horned Owl (which flies on silent wings in and around our neighbourhoods, but is rarely seen because of its stillness and great camouflage),
– Bald Eagle (a majestic creature which was probably the start of the show).
Matt walked through the audience with each of the birds, to give everyone a close-up view and also enticed the birds to take short flights so all present could witness their full plumage and wingspan in flight.
While showing the audience these impressive birds, Matt delivered a talk that was both informative and entertaining, drawing in the spectators, especially the younger ones, with questions and fascinating tidbits about each raptor.
Did you know that the kestrel, one of the smallest birds of prey, can be enticed to stay near your house with a kestrel box to live in, and in return will keep your mouse population down? Or that it is all right to return a baby bird to its nest, because birds have no sense of smell and so will not be put off by the smell of humans? And for the same reason, owls are very fond of eating skunks and are unaffected by their powerful scent?
Matt told the audience that twenty years ago, bald eagles were almost extinct because of the pesticide DDT. Public outcry led to banning DDT and bald eagles have made an amazing comeback. It was a reminder that we have responsibilities to protect nature if we want to continue to enjoy the benefits that the wild land brings to us.
The Friends of Ferguson Forest would like to thank our sponsors for the Birds of Prey show, Pet Valu and North Grenville Tourism, for their generous support, and also members of the audience who kindly gave donations. Together, these contributions covered the cost of the show and provided a modest surplus to put towards the work of Friends.
The Friends of Ferguson Forest Centre is a completely volunteer organization committed to protecting Ferguson Forest and maintaining it for the enjoyment of community members.
FFFC holds a number of activities over the year open to the public, including interpretive walks in the Forest, and educational events such as the Birds of Prey show. For more information, please go to the website (https://www.friendsofthefergusonforest.com)