Sunday, March 24, 2013

Birds of Prey Show

I was excited to hear that there was going to be a Birds of Prey exhibit at the Big Horn Show at the Spokane Fairgrounds this weekend. Promptly, I had Bird Lady Assistant put it on our schedule. When Saturday came, we showed up at the Big Horn Show and I practically ran (well, not really) from the information booth to the annex where we were told the Birds of Prey would be. The show was to start at 5:00, and we had about 25 minutes before the it started. There were a few things to look at while we waited. But I wanted to get good seats, so I didn't want to dilly dally too long. Here are some posters that showed the stars of the Birds of Prey Show.
The Stars of the Show
They had this sweet looking little American Kestrel, named Sadie in a cage that did not seem to mind all of us photogs trying to get a snapshot of her. Here I just used my iPhone because it seemed to fit right in between the wire cage. Come to find out, Sadie is the center's loudest and meanest bird! Can't judge a 'bird' by it's 'feathers', I guess.
Sadie, the American Kestrel
When the show was about to start, they started bringing out the birds. The first bird to come out, I didn't recognize. It wasn't until later, after the speaker started, that I found out it was a Harris's Hawk named Stanley. They aren't from around here, only the very most southern part of the US in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico and into Mexico and Central America.
Stanley, the Harris Hawk
The bird handlers ranged in age from about 9 or 10 it looked like, to teens and 20's. There were two experts who took turns doing the speaking, one on hawks, the other on owls. The youngest handler, who looked to be about 9, worked with the birds daily at the Hawk and Owl Sanctuary at West Valley Outdoor Learning Center. He seemed very confident in his handling skills.
Young Handler and Stanley the Harris Hawk
I did recognize the next star of the show. It was One-eyed Willie, whom I had
seen on TV on KHQ 6 news, advertising the Birds of Prey exhibit at the Big Horn Show. He was a beautiful male Barn Owl. The males have a mostly white belly, while the females have more spots/streaks on their bellies. The teenage handler of Willie said his favorite part of the Barn Owl was their heart-shaped facial disk. I was surprised to learn that Barn Owls only live one or two years and eat up to 1000 mice a year!

One-eyed Willie the Barn Owl
I've only seen one other Barn Owl, and that was at my friend Jana's. She had one roosting in the peak of her house one year, and invited me over for lunch one day so I could see the owl they named Baxtor. Just recently I found out that the males have mostly white bellies, and the female's bellies are more spotted or streaked. So I think Baxtor was most likely a female, so maybe Baxtorette is more appropriate? You can see her at the bottom of this blog on the scrolling banner.
Willie, Barn Owl
The next owl star to appear on stage was a Great Horned Owl named Hanovi. The handler stood right behind Willie so I couldn't see worth a darn. Did I mention we had front row seats? They were still in setup mode, and the speaker gal was looking to the audience to see if we could see, so I gestured that we couldn't see. Then she directed the handler to bring Hanovi down in front of the stage just a few feet from where we were sitting. Our front row seats became up close and personal seats in a snap!

Hanovi, the Great Horned Owl
Hanovi was quite the character during the show. He kept flapping his wings and ending up hanging by his feet upside down until the handler could get him back right side up and perched on her leather-gloved arm. His feather covered feet were so cool. They looked more like dog paws.
Hanovi flipped upside down
Apparently, Hanovi is well behaved enough that he can be kept out of his cage, although tethered to a pole. He does snap and hiss at people, but doesn't bite. His beak is so strong he could snap a broomstick in half.
Hanovi, the Great Horned Owl
You can imagine my glee when the next bird came out and it was a huge Rough-legged Hawk! Yep, my newest life bird (see yesterday's post). They came and stood right in front of me just about 3 feet away! I swear I was in hawk heaven! The main speaker said this was her favorite, and her name was Pantelones, which is Spanish for Pants, which happens to be her nickname. She was named this because of the feathers on her legs make it look like she is wearing pants.
Pantelones (Pants) the Rough-legged Hawk
This hawk was really a gorgeous creature, and to be so up close and personal was truly a special moment. The fact that I had just added this hawk to my life list yesterday, made it all the more special. Pants made the sweetest little chirps, and her handler would whisper to her throughout the show.
Pants, the Rough-legged Hawk

On the other side of the stage, down on the floor was another owl. Oroville was a mixed hybrid. Spotted Owl x Barred Owl = Sp+arred Owl. 
Spotted Owl x Barred Owl = Sparred Owl
The owl expert told us that the dark-eyed owls always have a pale beak, and the light-eyed owls always have a dark beak. They aren't sure why. Are you scrolling back to see the previous owls? Yep, the Barn Owl has dark eyes, pale beak. The Great-Horned Owl has light eyes and a dark beak.
Oroville, the Sparred Owl
The following picture is of a Long-eared Owl. Notice the eyes look a little dull? That is because it is a stuffed (taxidermy) specimen.
Long-eared Owl (stuffed) on display
Some other fun wildlife from around the Big Horn Show...
Friendly Skunk
Black Bear
Mountain Lion
Brown Bear
Black Bear
It was a great time spent with the Bird of Prey at the Big Horn Show. I wasn't much interested in all the other hunter related stuff, but did enjoy doing some taxidermy birding while I was there. Scoping out all the stuffed ducks and birds and trying to identify them. I stopped by one booth that had some spotting scopes and binoculars displayed. Told the guy I was into bird watching, not hunting. He pointed out a pair of binoculars and said they were the top bird watching bins. I took one look through them and it was like looking through the cleanest window you had ever seen with the freshest eyes! He told me they run about $18.99. I was sold! I was about ready to whip out my debit card when I realized he was talking eighteen hundred and ninety-nine dollars!! I laughed, and told him he was a big tease! Now, Bird Lady wants some obscenely expensive bins! Oh boy...
~ Sherrie (Bird Lady)


  1. Sherrie, what a fun show. It must have been neat to be in the front row and so close to the owls and hawks. The rough-legged hawk is a beauty. The Barn Owl is a favorite of mine, I feel sorry for Willie. Great post, thanks for sharing your visit to the show.

    1. I felt like a Birds of Prey groupie! Getting there early to get front row seats. Staying late to meet the 'band' backstage. In awe of how cool they are! They wouldn't let me touch them though. But I had the best time. Even ran into an old friend that I used to work with.

  2. What a great show you got to see. I have seen some up close at the ARK which is an animal rescue here.

    1. Makes me want to do some volunteer work for a bird rescue or something. I just may have to look into that!

  3. Yes, Sherri looks like you had a great time, did your assistant (hubby) enjoy the show???

    1. Hahaha... I asked Bird Lady Assistant and his reply was "Well... sure"! He may have been under a little duress though. They had those nasty metal folding chairs that aren't so comfortable, so he didn't sit through the whole show, but he watched from behind the seating area, and walked around and checked out the Big Horn Show displays. I think he enjoyed himself.

  4. Oh, I love bird of prey shows. It's so nice to see birds that you normally don't see because they only come out at night. That Sparred Owl is so cute!

    Here's my Great Horned Owl story: I was driving home at about 11 pm when I noticed something in the road. I thought it was a cat. I had ear and big yellow eyes. Then it flew away. It was a Great Horned Owl the size of a cat! The next morning it was roosting at the top of one of our tall spruce trees. A bunch of crows were pestering it. I imagine it came from the large county park that is just a few blocks away from my childhood home. Plenty of nice forests there.

    1. Owl sightings are always so exciting!

      At the show, they said that the Great Horned Owls will eat your cat! You know what they say... "You are what you eat"!

      Thanks for stopping by Joy!

      ~ Sherrie (Bird Lady)

  5. Oh my gosh Sherrie, I love that barn owl. We have a pair nesting at West Cottage, my English home, and I simply can't stop drawing/painting/sketching them. I've painted them on maps, sketched them on note sheets, I love how they fly and come for a landing with their talons in front of them. How lucky were you?

    1. The Barn Owls are so cool. A friend had one roosting in her eaves a few years back.

      The Birds of Prey show was pretty cool, getting to see the birds up close.

      I bet your drawings are super cool!

  6. This is amazing! Beautiful photos! Love love love the owls! (I have one on my blog logo) I'm not sure if you go falconing but I got the opportunity to try it on a trip to Vermont and it was amazing having those beautiful birds land on your arm!

  7. Hi Sherrie, I haven't seen your posts in awhile as I usually go to Bloglovin to read my blogs and couldn't get your's to list there. I'm at blogger right now. Great show you went to and great photos.