the Wilds and surrounding American Electric Power lands. We saw American Kestrel, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk and many other species, including a very special performance by the most coveted of the talon-bearing set.
But we did snatch up a few pellets. A tiny Meadow Vole skull (I think) sits on a nice bed of digested and upchucked fur.
Following lunch shift #1, a good chunk of the people took a bus ride over to the Giraffe House to see the long-necked beasts up close. A few of us waited around on top of restaurant hill, when Larry Dow spotted the bird far off and on the wing. Closer it came, until the eagle settled at the edge of a distant pond and began digging into some sort of carcass. We rued the absence of the other people and wished for them to hurry back. Finally, we saw the bus pull out from the Giraffe House and head up the very road that skirted the pond where Golden Eagle was happily chowing down. Alas! The bird flew before the bus got within view, and quickly drifted behind a hill and out of sight.
Upon the return of the others, who were understandably disappointed to have missed the eagle show, we set up a vigil and hoped for the bird's return. And return it did, the succulent carcass apparently too tasty to leave alone. So now, nearly half of the entire group was treated to great views of the Golden, but another group had bused off to the Rhinoceros House. Deja vu, as we hoped they would return in time to see the bird. Finally, the bus came lumbering up the road towards the eagle pond, and we hoped they would spot the bird in time to stop and view it before it flew. Not to worry - sharp-eyed observers on the bus saw the bird and everyone on board had great looks, and from far closer than those of us on the distant hill. That's the bus in the distance; the eagle is not far to their right and just on the other side of the road.
We're even treated to a brief presentation about the Wilds by the education department staff. Lunch shift #1 went smoothly. However, right in the middle of lunch shift #2's presentation, pandemonium erupted when the aforementioned Golden Eagle had the bad manners to fly right by the restaurant's windows. Apparently a shout went up and the place cleared in the blink of an eye. Well, at least that meant that nearly every participant at this year's Extravaganza got to see the eagle, and that certainly doesn't happen every year.
The Ohio Ornithological Society does a lot for Ohio's birding community, the Raptor Extravaganza being just one of many yearly activities. Consider becoming a member. We'll be doing the raptor event again next year, I'm sure, and I hope that you can be there.