As I have mentioned in previous articles, on of my favorite things to do in the Lowcountry is chaperone my children’s field trips. These outings provide a unique opportunity to get to know our natural and historic area in depth. Our last trip was to the Center for Birds of Prey off of North Highway 17 between Mt Pleasant and Awendaw in the Francis Marion National Forest.
I was impressed by the large, unique enclosures for hawks, eagles, owls, and vultures. We enjoyed informative presentations by the volunteer staff at the enclosures; my favorite being the Bald Eagles. The "Vulture Restaurant" (aptly named by the Birds of Prey staff) generated the most reaction in the children. While standing at the edge of an expansive marsh, visitors can observe giant local birds diving in to pluck up vittles provided by the staff. Our visit culminated with an exhibition of trained Harris hawks, working together to corner their prey. When a Barred owl silently swooped just over our heads, close enough that we could feel the air move past, our visit was complete.
The Avian Medical Clinic has grown over the years and currently treats over 600 sick and injured birds each year, with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat. Both raptors and shorebirds are brought in for all types of injuries. Far too many involve gunshots, vehicular impacts, electrical equipment, and poisons. The medical center is also designated by the US Coast Guard Area Contingency Plan as the SC Oiled Bird Treatment center. The facility was completed in 2007 and maintains readiness as the only permanent avian treatment center of its kind on the Eastern seaboard.
I have also just discovered that there is a program for scouts! Offered on the second and fourth weekend each month, your troop of between 30 and 100 can camp up to two nights in the primitive site. The staff provides daily education curriculum focusing on conservation efforts, natural history, and interaction with live birds of prey with opportunities to experience the birds up close. Service projects are also available.
Coming up on December 3, 2017 is a rare opportunity to photograph the birds of prey outside their enclosures either while perching or in free flight. Space is limited and therefore tickets are recommended. Tickets are available at www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org . If you are an interested professional or amateur photographer, you must act quickly as the September 10 photography day is already sold out!
The Center for the Birds of Prey
4719 Highway 17 North
Awendaw, SC 29429
Open to the Public
Thursday through Saturday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tour Times are 10:30 am & 2:00 pm
Toll Free: 1-844-321-1961
For more information about conservation efforts between Mt Pleasant and Awendaw including how to become a part of this great area please contact me!