Have you ever seen the largest raptor in North America?  Have you seen it up close?  Better yet, have you seen it fly just inches over your head?  If not for the terrific people who operate The Raptors here in the Cowichan Valley, these experiences would never be possible.

We’ve now visited twice, and each adventure is beyond amazing.  This is a place you can visit time and time again, and with each visit you will come away with a deeper understanding of these incredible birds, and the connection with nature that they bring.  These wonderful birds are way beyond being just predators, they are amazing spirits and personalities.

The Birds In Action

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Our visit to The Raptors found us taking in one of their incredible flying demonstrations.  It’s absolutely amazing to listen to the handlers talk about how these birds live in the wild, the important roles they play in our fragile ecosystems, and their unique personalities.  This is Gaston from Quebec, a stork of incredible stature.  And, we might verily add, one of incredible character too.  He is the largest bird at the center at this time, we understand, and he was amazing to see in flight and at play with the staff and the audience.

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Quite honestly I think the hardest part about visiting The Raptors has to be in picking a favorite bird.  As I sit here typing this post, our next featured bird is this very young barn owl.  We can’t remember his name at the time of this writing, but in truth he stole my heart.  This particular little owl is learning to fly and learning about his role in the broader world he finds himself living in.  We cannot begin to tell you how endearing it was to watch him flit about in the air, having so much fun interacting with everyone, and quite honestly showing off a little…  he knew he was cute, make no mistake about it.  These little creatures when found in their natural habitats are terrific pest controllers, with each bird being capable of hunting and eating several rodents in a day.  A family of barn owls on your property will find your land to be pretty much rodent free.

It also really needs to be said that the staff who work and interact with the birds and the visitors are all second to none.  One of the best moments we had during the flight demonstration was to see how excited the handler was in watching this little owl learning to fly, and seeing the advancements he is making.  It was absolutely heartwarming and a really special moment in the afternoon.

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Next up for the demonstration was this gorgeous hawk, named Nova if we recall correctly.  The way he flew and the way he interacted with the staff here really shows the strong interpersonal ties that are created between people and these birds.  It was noted that several of the birds were relative newcomers to The Raptors, but as we watched the show we felt that the connection ran much deeper.  There is an unspoken understanding and symbiosis between everyone, and it comes shining through as a very special element.  One that will have you coming back time and time again, if you can.

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

And finally, it was time for Aries, the gorgeous Golden Eagle, to make his appearance.  Once again we find that connection between bird and staff was beyond palpable; these are true relationships that are forged.  I sat in absolute awe as we watched this largest bird of the raptor clan in North America fly around the grounds.  I was so enthralled by this eagle, I am surprised I came away with any decent photographs.  After all, it’s easy to forget about the camera in your hand as you sit in the very presence of one of these, seeing them fly with seemingly little effort.  This fellow was quite boisterous and vocal; apparently he was quite happy and excited to be here today and was telling us to notice him.  Try not to; I dare you.

Video Of Aries The Golden Eagle

VIDEO - The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

VIDEO – The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Don’t ask me how as I honestly can’t tell you, but I somehow managed to find the wherewithal to pull out my video camera during the demonstration.  I thought you might be as amazed as we were to see this glorious bird in action in video.  Click on the picture above to be transported to a short 1 1/2 minute video clip featuring this incredible eagle in full motion flight.  And prepare to be utterly flabbergasted.

The Raptors Medieval Day

One of the primary reasons we visited the center yesterday was to discuss a very exciting event that is being held here this weekend, Saturday, August 23rd, 2014.  This annual event is growing every year in popularity as the word gets out.  Here is the official post on The Raptors Facebook page talking about the big day!

What a terrific way to bridge the eons by bringing together all these great features and events!  If you are near the Cowichan Valley on Saturday, we recommend you come visit and experience this first-hand.  We’ll be there, too, photographing the costumes, the birds, the events and the visitors all enjoying themselves.  Look for us and come and say hi!

Thank you so much for your kind visit to The Hollow here today to see our latest feature story.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.  See you at The Raptors on Saturday!




  1. avatar Lisa Gordon says:

    Oh, how I would love to visit here.
    They are all such amazing creatures, but Aries is most definitely my favorite.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

    • Many many thanks there, Lisa, we really appreciate your visit and kind words of encouragement here today! The event this weekend was a raging success and we came away with a ton of great images!!

  2. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Amazing place and post, Toad. I’ve never been much on bird photography, mainly because I have yet to put myself in a position to capture these great creatures in action. I really enjoy seeing the work of others and I know these are not easy captures.

    Love the photos and video you have here and I got a feel for the experience you had on your visits.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Looks like a great place Toad. Terrific images. Not being a wildlife shooter, I do know how hard it is to capture them. Really love the shot of the owl in flight.

    • There is definitely a trick to capturing shots like this, one I am still learning a bit about. It’s a very fluid and dynamic situation and you’ve got to be prepared to shoot and hope to grab a few winners. 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind visit today, Len, much appreciated!!

  4. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Wow incredible captures Toad. I agree with the other comments, captures such as these are not easy to get. I need to work on my action shots.

  5. avatar LensScaper says:

    Quite a collection of raptors – it’s hard to believe that stork could get off the ground – it looks so ungainly on its spindly legs. I came close to a Barn Owl last week at a country fair – an extraordinary bird up close. A great set of images, Toad