Flight Training At CRC

Weyerhaueser Flight Cover

Visitors can peek at the flight training process from the end of the Weyerhaueser Flight Training Facility (F5). Photo by Michele Miller Houck.

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Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings. – Victor Hugo

It’s A Big Bird

Not the yellow, fluffy “Sesame Street” variety but rather a wild Bald Eagle with sharp talons for hunting. It’s learning how to fly in this flight training facility. At 30 feet wide by 100 feet long and about the height of a telephone pole, the flight cage is an essential last step in an injured raptor’s rehabilitation, giving the birds the opportunity to exercise their wing muscles before returning to the wild.

In 2012, the Jim Arthur Raptor Medical Center treated more than 1,000 injured birds of prey, returning about 70 percent of those surviving the first 24 hours to the wild. As with any good hospital — even the human variety — we pride ourselves on world-class treatment and prompt patient-recovery times. Unfortunately, as the center grew, our single flight cage had become a bottleneck.

“A couple of years ago, we admitted 17 eagles in one year,” says Michele Miller Houck, associate executive director. “We were having a hard time getting birds through the rehabilitation program.”

Carolina Raptor Center is one of the largest of its kind in the world, and the only one within the surrounding five-state region with flight cages big enough to rehabilitate the largest birds, such as Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles.

CRC’s mission is to educate the public about conservation issues around raptors and to rehabilitate injured birds. Clearly, the new flight cage also plays a critical role in that mission.

“Our work with Weyerhaeuser is exactly the kind of thing we like to do with corporate partners,” Houck says. “From volunteer participation to in-kind donations and communications, we really appreciate Weyerhaeuser’s interest and support in all these different ways.”

Seed funding for the Weyerhaeuser Flight Training Facility was provided by individuals that donated through the Arts and Science Council’s Power2Give online giving platform.