By Justin Sibbet
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale has opened its doors for another high-flying summer.
From great horned owls to small insects, the Birds of Prey Centre hopes to excite and awe visitors with their unique, interactive environment.
Colin Weir, managing director at the Birds of Prey Foundation, says there is always something exciting to see at the centre.
“We have this year’s baby great-horned owlets, we’ll have a few of them out on display for visitors to interact with,” said Weir.
He says these baby owls are quick to grow up, so seeing them so young is a truly unique experience.
“About 40-45 days ago they were the size of a golf ball, now they are bigger than a football,” said Weir.
However, even with the rapid growth of the owls during their youth, they still manage to live up to 30-years-old when afforded the proper healthcare provided from the centre.
Many other species of birds live at the centre, but the popular insect discover day will steal the show when it returns this year for the first time since before the COVID pandemic.
Weir says this is an excellent opportunity for people to come in and learn about an often overlooked, yet highly important part of the ecosystem.
“Understanding and appreciating insects for all the good things they do. Often a misunderstood part of our nature and wildlife,” said Weir.
The Birds of Prey Foundation does a whole lot more than simply showcase birds and insects though.
They have a wildlife recovery service which enables them to rescue and provide healthcare for injured birds of prey.
Weir says they have seen an increase in baby owlets landing in sewage lagoons recently.
Although it is not a clean job, they are always ready to help.
“You can imagine what it’s like having to bring a car home for us rescuing an owl when it’s up to its eyeballs in sewage,” said Weir.
Contrary to popular belief, Weir says the foundation does not receive any funding from the government, at any level.
“A lot of people assume that we receive government subsidies, from the town or the province or the federal government but we actually don’t receive any,” said Weir.
This means the foundation is solely operating under the revenue stream made from the admission prices, as well as donations.
However, even with the limited budget, the Birds of Prey Foundation still offers the wildlife recovery service in every month of the year.
“That’s why the donations and admission fees are so important to us, to help us sustain our operation and keep the doors open,” said Weir.
The insect discovery day event will be held on August 12, while the Birds of Prey Centre will be open from now until the Labour Day weekend in September.