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Birds of Prey
  Miami Travel News ( Press Release )

On the Wings of Eagles Miami Museum of Science's Bird of Prey Center keeps injured birds flying high.

miami_museum_science_exterior.jpg Miami, FL -- They are the Jackson Memorial Hospital for birds of prey, but you'll rarely hear of them on your nightly news. The Miami Museum of Science's Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center is where the peregrine falcon goes after it feeds on a poisoned pigeon, where the orphaned screech owl arrives when its tree was cut down; and where the American bald eagle goes after a speeding motorist slams into its side.

Starting out as a small area dedicated to unique live animals at the Miami Museum of Science, the Department of Environmental Sciences under the direction of wildlife biologist Brian Mealey, has grown to become a leader in the field of bird of prey rehabilitation.

Over 1,500 injured birds of prey have come through the Center since 1991, and with a release rate of 48 percent, close to 400 birds have been given a second chance due to the Miami Museum of Science. The Center houses a wildlife hospital complete with x-ray equipment, blood analysis machines and a flight conditioning enclosure.

Birds of Prey, otherwise known as raptors, include eagles, falcons, ospreys, hawks, owls, and kestrels, and hold a high ranking in the food chain. Like canaries in a coal mine, what happens to them greatly indicates what can happen to humans.

The injuries range from broken wings to pesticide poisoning to internal bleeding. The birds are flying on their way to South America or Canada during their migratory

season, and like a tourist who breaks a leg in an unfamiliar town, these birds are lucky to have someone to care for them. If the birds can't function fully, they have no chance in the wild.

Through the cooperative efforts of Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Miami Beach and Wee Care Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Homestead, the Falcon-Batchelor Bird of Prey Center is part of a network of private, not-for-profit care givers, who must cover the entire gamut of wildlife injuries in Miami-Dade County. Everyone in the wildlife community, on every level of government, knows where to send each species of animal, but it's an uphill battle. Financial support is slim, and if it weren't for the support of private donators like The Batchelor Foundation, the Folke H. Peterson Foundation and a handful of individual "adoptors," there would be no medical care for these injured birds.

Support for wildlife care is badly needed in Miami-Dade County, says Museum of Science Wildlife Assistant Director Amy Horadam, because our citizens are not aware of its crucial importance. "We, as a society, have become disconnected with our environment," said Horadam. "As humans we should be concerned about the health of other species, if only because it is ultimately the key to our own survival."

Families who gape at the three majestic bald eagles or the aberrant head-rotation of a barn owl when they visit the Museum of Science's Wildlife Center aren't just looking at some interesting animals on display. They are coming face-to-face with Miami-Dade County's premier and only health care network for birds of prey. To contact the Falcon-Batchelor Bird of Prey Center, call (305) 646-4244 or 858-8353.

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