Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Bird in the Hand

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So rather than spend all my time here searching for wild animals - where there is never a guarantee of success - I am also looking for unique opportunities to meet captive animals.

One such opportunity came today at Spier Eagle Encounters. Unfortunately the weather was appalling, so there were no shows. But I was able to put on a falconer's glove and hold two magnificent birds of prey: a Wahlberg's eagle and a huge Verreaux's eagle. The latter was less accustomed to being held, and had to be kept hooded so as to ensure that it would remain calm. I was amazed at how heavy it was - about twelve pounds. I could feel the strength of its talons even through the very heavy glove; without the glove, it would have pierced my flesh to the bone without even trying. Large eagles are so powerful that in some parts of the world, people train them to hunt wolves. An eagle can plunge out of the sky with such force that it can smash into the back of a wolf's skull and kill it. While I have handled numerous birds of prey in the past, this was my first encounter with eagles, and it was awe-inspiring.

On my way out of Spier, I saw a slave bell, which is a relic of the old South Africa. This large bell, mounted about twenty feet up in the air, would be rung to sound the alarm in the event that slaves escaped! How times have changed.


Anonymous said...

Freakin' wow!

Anonymous said...

Did they have an American Eagle?