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Reelfoot Raptors

 It's not often that you get a chance to view Eagles up close and personal. Well, at the Reelfoot Lake State Park flight cage they have Eagles, Hawks and Owls that can be viewed up close and personal.

 By tending to injured birds in the Reelfoot area, David Haggard and his staff are providing an opportunity for the  general public to view these majestic birds, while also providing a safe haven for those that aren't ready for the wild.

For some pictures of the Eagles on Display
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 At this time there are 2 Eagles, 3 Red Tailed Hawks, 1 Red Shouldered Hawk, 2 Great Horned Owls and a Screech Owl on display.

 The Eagles are both mature Bald Eagles and have been residents of the state park viewing station for around 10 years. One has a foot injury and when found was too weak to fly. His foot was probably caught in a large trap and it appeared that he had been injured for 10 to 12 weeks at the time. This bird is probably around 20 years old, but this bird was mature when found and aging Eagles is very difficult after they reach maturity. Eagles commonly live up to 30-40 years old and David Haggard said the oldest he knows of reached 68 years of age in captivity.

 The other Eagle was found north of Blytheville Arkansas and couldn't fly, due to suspected brain damage from lead or pesticide poisoning. This Eagle is also mature and is estimated at 12 years old.

 The Red Tail Hawks were all victims of car collisions and 2 of them were broken wings which will prevent their release. One has only a sprained wing and will be released in the next week or so.

 The most common injury these birds suffer from is a collision with a car and most of these birds other than the Eagles have been brought in by someone who was there for the accident or immediately after. 

 However, David warns against trying to handle Eagles. They are just too big and powerful for someone without experience to try and handle. 

 Hawks and other (injured) smaller raptors are usually captured by throwing a box over them or by throwing a shirt or towel over them and getting their feet tangled in it. The thing to watch is their feet. Those talons are their number one weapon and should be respected.

 Now before everyone starts grabbing up live hawks off the side of the road, remember these animals are injured and scared. They also have the ability to hurt you if not handled properly. For that reason I can't recommend that you stop and grab the next injured hawk or owl you see. But, the fact of the matter is that if they aren't retrieved quickly  they will probably not last long in the wild.

 If you find one call David Haggard at 731-253-9652. He will take all the steps possible to retrieve any injured birds.


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