Some of the most common questions the Elachee Nature Science Center receives are about birds.
They usually come weekly when someone finds an injured bird and calls trying to figure out what to do with it. While Elachee isn’t a rehabilitation center, the people there know where to refer the callers.
And it’s because of those phone calls that Elachee started Raptor Fest, one of its public nature programs that features live birds and animals so guests can learn more about birds of prey. This year’s event will be on Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the nature center and costs $10 per person, or just $5 for members.
“This is an opportunity to bring folks out to hopefully experience something they wouldn’t normally,” said Kim Marks, director of development and communications at Elachee. “In this particular situation, they’re going to be exposed to wild birds of prey.”
This will be the fourth annual Raptor Fest and Marks is hoping it’s as successful as ones in the past. Last year’s event brought in 500 guests, so she’s optimistic about its growth.
It’s a pretty big event that will feature a number of exhibitors and games as well as some food vendors to keep guests happy as they learn about birds of prey. Exhibitors like the Amicalola Falls Bird of Prey Program, Nature’s Echo Live Bird Program and some others will all be on hand to demonstrate and teach about birds of prey. Visitors can see hawks, vultures or bald eagles.
“It’s an opportunity for folks to come out and experience a live animal encounter,” Marks said.
Elachee will have different games like a bean bag toss, scavenger hunt and obstacle course that will encourage children who visit to learn even more about birds of prey.
“There’s going to be a lot for young children as well as the young at heart,” Marks said.
While it’s a fun time for parents to bring their children, Marks said it’s actually something the kids take a lot of pride in as well. They always enjoy leading their families around and showing them everything they’ve learned after visiting Elachee themselves on field trips.
But Raptor Fest is meant to educate everyone who comes. For Elachee, it doesn’t matter if guests have a host of questions, or if they’re just there to listen.
“For the average person, being able to see a hawk or a vulture up close and not just on the side of the road picking at a carcass, that’s pretty darn cool,” Marks said.
Where: Elachee Nature Science Center, 2125 Elachee Dr., Gainesville
When: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., March 17