Five-year-old Jack Fisher (left) and four-year-old Liam Kuc join Allan Brooks Nature Centre’s Janice Buick Friday afternoon as they get up close to Paco the Harris’ Hawk thanks to Robyn Radcliffe

Five-year-old Jack Fisher (left) and four-year-old Liam Kuc join Allan Brooks Nature Centre’s Janice Buick Friday afternoon as they get up close to Paco the Harris’ Hawk thanks to Robyn Radcliffe

Raptor program takes flight

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre will offer hands-on birds of prey experiences.

A chance to look into the eyes of a predator is soaring into town.

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre has partnered with The Raptors, a wildlife program in Duncan, to offer hands-on birds of prey experiences.

A team of six birds and two handlers will be coming to the centre June 13 to 18 where it will offer free flight demonstrations and close encounter courses twice daily.

“It’s such a great location for them to soar,” said Robyn Radcliffe, The Raptors operations manager, who brought Paco, a Harris’ Hawk to the region Friday to help introduce the program.

To start, the program will run in June, Aug. 16 to 20 and Sept. 20 to 24, but the goal is to make it a full time exhibit in 2017.

It’s a perfect fit, according to Aaron Deans, ABNC executive director, since the Okanagan region is home to more than 300 species of birds, 33 of which are birds of prey.

“We live in an area that’s got the highest concentrations of birds in Canada,” said Deans.

“This gives us an opportunity to get close to these species that we see but we don’t know a lot about.”

Being able put a glove on and handle the birds and fly them also fits nicely with the centre’s goals.

“Our mandate is to get people more connected to nature,” said Deans.

ABNC already does a great deal of that with its existing programs, but the new Raptor program will only enhance that.

“It’s a program that’s very well supported by not only our school districts but school districts that are outside of the are as well.”

It’s already a hit for Ingrid Fisher and her family.

“It’s nice to have different things brought up,” said Fisher, while checking out the centre with her son.

Five-year-old Jack Fisher,  and his buddy Liam Kuc, were lucky enough to get a close encounter with Paco Friday.

“Cool!” said Jack, interested in the bird’s tongue.

Liam was also wide-eyed during the encounter.

“His head could go to the back, all the way.”

The new program will take place in the Paragrin Theatre presentation space currently being put together and is open to kids, families, businesses and anyone wanting to take in the unique experience.

The flight demonstrations are for all ages while the encounters are for ages eight and up and for groups of no more than eight people. Tickets are available at www.abnc.ca.

“The goal for next year is to also have kids encounter programs,” said Deans.