Raptors Enthrall All

Over 400 people were captivated by beautiful raptors on November 4, 2023, when the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the National Park Service hosted Secret Gardens Birds and Bees at Fort Hunt Park’s Pavilion A.

Liz and Tim Dennison, owners of Secret Gardens, care for raptors that have been injured and cannot survive on their own in the wild. They have given each bird a name.

Someone found Pippin, a male American kestrel (Falco sparverius) near Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, begging for food and unafraid of people because he had imprinted on people.

american kestrel
All photos by Glenda Booth unless otherwise noted

Little Red, a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), is blind in his left eye, probably because a great horned owl grasped his head. 

red shouldered hawk by glenda booth

Scarlet, a female barred owl (Strix varia), has a damaged beak from a vehicular collision.

barred owl by glenda booth
Tim Dennison and a barred owl

Olive is a barn owl (Tyto alba). Barn owls are farmers' favorites because they eat mice. A barn owl family can scarf up 6,000 to 10,000 mice a year, Liz Dennison told the attendees.

barn owl

Homer, a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), the largest owl at Fort Hunt that day, seemed to zone in on his many admirers with his big yellow eyes. These owls are “at the top of the food chain,” Liz Dennison said.

great horned owl by Deborah Hammer
Great horned owl  Photo by Deborah Hammer

Little Voss, an eastern screech-owl (Megascops asio), also has a damaged eye from a collision. Experts at camouflage, these owls can blend into tree bark.

eastern screech owl by glenda booth3

From the Greeks, who believed that owls predicted a military victory, to Harry Potter’s snowy owl pal Hedwig, owls intrigue people. “Owls are icons for everything from potato chips to cigars,” Virginia owl expert John Spahr says.

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