Programs Open A New World

Onsite Programs Cover

Curator Natalie Childers teaches a class about bird beaks to a group of fifth graders from Trinity Episcopal School. Photo by Michele Miller Houck.

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Nature instills in everyone a sense of beauty and calmness. It exposes us to things that are alive and growing and promotes curiosity and exploration. – Condie Ward, Teaching Young Children

Throughout the year, Carolina Raptor Center’s informal programs on the Raptor Trail are available each weekend. Designed for all audiences, these programs offer families and other visitors the opportunity to interact with our raptor experts and to get nose to beak with our resident birds. Whether you take a walk with a vulture or meet and greet one of our amazing raptors in the Raptor Trail, these experiences are planned and spontaneous, so check the schedule and keep your eyes peeled!

New Weekday Offerings

Thursdays: Pre-school Book Club – bring your pre-schooler for a romp on the Nature playground and one of our staff or volunteers will read a raptor-themed book. 11 am.

Fridays: Nature Craft – explore the natural world through art during craft time led by summer camp counselor and Visitor Service Associate Jayna Saltrick. Noon.

Raptor Meet and Greet
Saturday and Sunday, look for our docent volunteers with a bird on the glove at one of four stations along the Raptor Trail. Meet a Red-tailed Hawk; have a conversation with a British Barn Owl. You never know who you might encounter!  

Information Station
Our docent volunteers are some of the most knowledgeable bird nerds around. Each weekend, they pull out the stops to provide interesting stories and facts about our resident raptors. Don't miss the information stations at the falcons, owls, vultures and Osprey. 

Raptor Encounters
Sundays during the Summer and Fall at 3 pm, our resident birds get up close and personal with our visitors. Vultures and hawks; Falcons and eagles! Join in the fun. More info.

Talons Summer Flight Show
Taking off on Memorial Day weekend, our Talons Summer Flight Show is exciting AND educational. Feel the wind from a raptor's wing as they fly overhead. For tickets.

Heat Index Procedure and Guideline

When the heat index is over 95 degrees CRC will cancel all bird appearances, flight shows, and encounters. If you purchase tickets in advance, someone from our Visitor Services team will contact you directly about the cancelation. If you have any questions about this, please call our Visitor Center at (704) 875-6521 x.107. Please check our website the day of your visit for the most recent changes in program and event schedules. When shows are canceled other trail programs are put in place during the scheduled times of 1pm and 3pm on Saturdays and 1:30pm and 3pm on Sundays.

Natalie Childers, CRC's Curator of Birds and Programs, gives a more detailed explanation of why this procedure and guideline is in place below.  

"On average, the birds in our collection run a regular body temperature of 101 degrees or above. Feathering and body structure do not allow birds to sweat, which is why you see them panting to release excess heat (much as a dog or cat will do when they get too warm). If you were to watch birds in their natural habitat, even those local to this area and “used to sitting in the heat,” they will often sit in a shady spot and sleep the whole day through on extremely hot days, and may even choose not to hunt on those days. The inability to sweat, high body temperature, and an already accelerated heart rate means that raptors (and other birds) becoming stressed can be a life or death situation. Being encouraged to exercise or fly in extreme temperature conditions, when they would normally avoid doing so in the wild, could lead to overheating and become dangerous for the bird. In addition, a vast majority of our flight collection are owls, birds that are naturally lazy and fly at nighttime when temperatures are lower. Several of this species are also found in colder climates and are not native to our humid, hot weather. To keep our birds safe (after all, they’re the reason why we’re here!) we choose not to fly them when the heat index is 95 or above. Not only can flying them be dangerous, the birds will most often choose NOT to fly whether we ask them to or not. Our training using positive reinforcement means that the birds are always given a choice, and if the answer is no, we have to respect that and move along to something else. The way we explain to kids is this: Imagine running a marathon at top speed in this kind of heat. Now imagine you’re doing so while wearing a winter coat and pants. That is how the birds would feel were we to “exercise” or “fly” them on such hot days. In addition to bird safety, we also keep in mind the health and well being of our staff, volunteers, and interns. When the weather reaches high temperatures, we encourage even our bird care staff to be inside as much as possible and drink water constantly." - Natalie Childers, Curator of Birds and Programs