We are a specialized wildlife facility where large, outdoor enclosures allow for physical reconditioning and natural weatherproofing of recuperating birds of prey, also known as raptors. In many cases this physical therapy is necessary to provide the birds with a more realistic chance of survival once released to the wild. These same structures are also used to prepare orphaned raptors for a life in their natural habitat.
The Avian Reconditioning Center has three large flight barns to accommodate the rehab of different species. The smallest is 30 feet long and is used for initial flight training and for smaller raptors such as kestrels and screech owls. It has roof-mounted swinging perches and is also often used as a staging area for fledgling birds of other species such as Cooper’s Hawks.
The swinging perches replicate the movement of tree limbs moving
in the wind or under the bird’s weight and provide experience at branching. In the wild, fledglings prepare for their first flight by branching, or jumping out of the nest onto nearby limbs to flap their wings and build strength.
Our 50-foot flight barn works the same way for many mid-sized species of hawks and owls while our 100- foot flight barn is necessary to work with Florida’s largest raptor species, such as Bald Eagles. Both of these enclosures are used for live-prey training and allow us to more completely assess each individual bird’s flight progress during recovery.
Mews is the proper name for the living quarters of a bird of prey in captivity. The word comes from the French word muer which means to change, as raptors were put in their mews when they molted. Our permanent raptors are each housed in outdoor mews. Our largest structure consists of 7 individual mews for our hawks and owls.
The Eagle mews have three individual rooms, as well as two weathering mews, which are screened in, abutting our 30-foot flight barn.
It is important for the design of a mews to be sensitive to each species needs. Most designs feature slats placed about an inch apart which allows for adequate light and air circulation, yet allows for limited visual access from the outside. Most of our larger hawks and owls are allowed to fly free in their mews when not with us on an education program.