los angeles bird festival turkey vultureAfter this morning’s bird banding in Zuma Canyon, I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever Los Angeles Bird Festival in the Santa Monica Mountains. This event was held by the Western National Parks Association at Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center.

los angeles bird festival red-tailed hawkAs I walked in, I first spotted a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk perched on a man’s gloved hand. I walked over to his booth and asked a few questions about his beautiful bird. The hawk and just been sprayed with water so it was covered in glistening droplets. He does this periodically throughout the day to keep the bird cool in the California heat.  The bird’s handler is a falconer, his bird is named “Buddy,” and it was his hunting partner. He takes the bird out flying and hunting every other day to catch small prey. I told him about the pair of Red-tailed Hawks that live in cathedral next to my office.

They had a live bird program that showed off a Turkey Vulture and Barn Owl. The woman presenting these birds talked about their habit, lifestyle, and unique physical characteristics. For example, the vulture has extremely large nostrils allowing lots of air to pass through to help it smell carrion. The Barn Owl has a “facial disc” to help direct sound waves toward its ears. Their birds were majestic and very beautiful.

albino raven los angeles bird festivalCalifornia Wildlife Center brought an amazing albino Raven. It is one of four known albino Ravens in the whole world. The bird’s name is Pearl. She lives in her handler’s house and has perches all over the house. The handler has created a large enclosure for her and has a permit to take care of the bird. Birds like Ravens and hawks are technically property of the government and people can not ‘own’ them. She told me that the process to obtain a permit was extremely intense and required a lot of previous handling experience.

I spotted International Bird Rescue there talking about their organization and teaching children about bird rehabilitation using plush birds. It was exciting to see them in attendance since I volunteer once a week in San Pedro at their facility.

During the day there was a guided bird walk, and several talks given about conservation, birding, local habitats, and the California Condor Program. I wish I could have spent more time there, but my entire morning was spent with Life Science Teacher, Professor Sakai from Santa Monica City College participating in his bird banding program at Zuma Canyon.

Have you been to any bird festivals? Let me know in the comments!

Update 5/22/15: 

It is with great sadness that I bring this news. I received word from one of my followers that the beautiful Albino bird, Pearl, pulled free from her jesses last week while being moved from her flight cage to an education program. According to her owner Madena, she got chased off by a pack of crows and was searched for for the next 30 hours.

The tragic part is that it wasn’t an owl or wild predator that killed her. Less than a mile away from her home, Pearl was shot with a gun by a human.

Madena is currently raising funds for a reward to help find Pearl’s killer, but most importantly to fund the continuing development of the education program that Pearl was supposed to be the basis of; a program to educate people on conservation and how to successfully cohabitate with wildlife.

Learn more about the fundraiser for Pearl the Albino Raven


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