Have you ever gazed up at the sky and witnessed the masterful beauty of an eagle? Have you ever seen an osprey dive deep into a river to bring a fish straight out of the water? Have you ever watched as a peregrine falcon performs it's death-defying, head-first spiral down to the earth? If you have, then you understand the majesty that is birds of prey. If not, there is a place right in the Treasure Valley that can give you the chance.
Birds of prey are amazing animals, but they, like many other animals, are endangered. There are many different reasons why they are endangered, but our world would be a sad place without these creatures, for both ecological and recreational reasons.
In an effort to preserve these wonderful birds, the Peregrine Fund was created in 1970. Though the fund--located just a few miles south of Boise and east of Kuna--wears many different hats, its main purpose is to keep birds of prey populations at healthy levels. Impressively called the World Center of Birds of Prey, the five-hundred and eighty acre sanctuary for birds of prey of every kind from tiny Kestrels to powerful California Condors. Birds of all shapes and sizes, many endangered, come to the fund and are given a place to stay. Some birds, like the Peregrine Falcon, are raised in captivity before being released back into the wild. Due to these efforts, the fund successfully saved the Peregrine Falcon from extinction in 1999. The many researchers, biologists, and falcon fanatics that worked to build the Peregrine Fund have made a difference indeed by saving these wonderful creatures.
In addition to the Fund's commitment to the birds, they also have a strong commitment to the community. The Peregrine Fund is not just a sanctuary; it is somewhat of a school. The Fund opens its doors six days a week for tours, research library access, and presentations. They believe that the beauty and knowledge that we gain from these birds is to be shared. There are exhibits that explain the history of Falconry, along with birds to observe and interact with. There is even a friendly gift shop.
Many people that were influential in the creation of the Peregrine Fund. It began at Cornell University--in 1970, the Peregrine Fund's first breeding facilities were handled by the university. The facilities were moved to Boise in 1984. Morley Nelson, a Boise raptor specialist, could be said to have been the man behind the project's movement to Boise. Nelson had been extremely influential in protecting birds of prey in the State of Idaho. When the breeding facilities were brought to Boise they were upgraded--they now high-level technology like climate controlled barns. This gave the scientists and falconers more ways to make the birds comfortable as they were being bred and rehabilitated.
One of the notable birds that lives at the center is the California condor. This bird is a power house, dwarfing the rest of the vulture family. California Condors weigh, on average, 25 pounds and can have a wingspan of ten feet! They feed on the carcasses of dead animals and will normally scare other vultures away because of their size.
The California Condor was nearly extinct a few years back and has officially been labeled as one of the rarest birds in the world. Currently, there are less than five hundred in existence. The Peregrine Fund is lucky to have a few of these amazing birds.
The Peregrine Fund of course has many Peregrine Falcons. The Peregrine Falcon is a special bird; it is fast, powerful and graceful. The Peregrine Falcon is a high-speed hunter that's famous for their dives. The falcons fly high in the sky and when they spot their prey, they go head-first, spinning like crazy, until they suddenly snap out of the spin and snatch up their target. Much research has been done on the Peregrine Falcon to investigate how they have the ability to dive like that. One question that scientists have wondering has been, what about rocks or debris that they come in contact with while descend? If a human were to be falling that fast and even a particle of dust were to strike the eye, their eye would be damaged permanently. It turns out, the falcon has a second eye lid that closes as they go into their dive. This special eye lid is almost like bullet-proof contacts. It protects the Falcon's eyes from anything hitting them... which happens often. These incredible animals deserve all that is done for them.
The Peregrine Fund is an amazing institution that loves to share their knowledge and expertise. You may say that it is "for the birds," but give it a try, drop by, and see firsthand for yourself the wondrous world of the birds of prey. You may even become an enthusiast yourself. Those who buy or own real estate in Kuna, Idaho have the opportunity to frequently pass by the Birds of Prey area, not many people get to have that be an everyday experience.