The site of the battle of Saratoga had a “Raptors Rock!” (the birds, that is, not the dinos) so we went to see the angry murderbirds and some of the history. While the terrain is pretty open by local standards, it was certainly not compared to what we were used to. The nearby Hudson river defined the edge for a lot of the battle, but we never actually saw it because of the trees!
Despite the fame of the battle and length of time since then, there was still archeological digs going on and small personal touches and remains of weapons can still be found apparently. Unfortunately we’d sat in the sun for the better part of an hour and a half before going to explore the park, so we didn’t do in the battlefield proper. Most of the pictures are by Theresa again.
The raptors were presented by a local wildlife rescue group, who brought out a shriek owl, barred owl, aplomado falcon, raven, red-tailed hawk, and Eurasian eagle owl. The shriek owl, Hootie, was the first one they brought out and upon hearing everyone go “awwww” jokingly informed us he hated it when people did that because he was VICIOUS!
Next up was a barred owl, known for their laugh-like calls and ability to vaguely sound like people. Kansas is right on the edge of their range, so it was a new type for me.
Esteban, the aplomado falcon was also a new type to me: while common through central and southern Mexico they had been “extirpated” (eliminated) from the southern US and are slowly being reintroduced. Looking rather like an enlarged kestrel, they hunt in mating pairs with one working to flush birds out of the tall grass while the other takes the prey.
The Eurasian eagle-owl, Wyatt, was probably the star of the show. They grow to be the largest owls in the world (the females anyways), they’re relatives of the great horned owls but are about 1/3 larger. Wyatt either talked to the handler, or would react when she stroked his foot, and showed off a few deep hoots for us. As he sat on the perch, under a large porch, crows slowly started to congregate since they would work to drive an owl away in nature.