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  • Jennifer Dowd

Flight of Passion: A Glimpse into the World of Raptors and Their Dedicated Guardians - April 26, 2024

Updated: May 16

I had the honor and privilege of spending a few hours with two very talented and incredibly dedicated women at the Pacific Northwest Raptors Centre today. It was an experience that not only opened my eyes but also reaffirmed the power of passion and purpose in our lives. As a photographer, I've always wanted to do something with my craft that would make a real difference. Donating my photos, creating prints, and designing photo cards seemed like a meaningful idea. So, when the opportunity arose to collaborate with the Raptors Centre, I knew it was a chance to merge my love for photography with a cause close to my heart.

"Capturing the essence of these magnificent creatures through photography is not just a privilege; it's a profound honor to freeze moments of their beauty and grace for the world to behold."

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Brooke and Morgan, two remarkable individuals who embody what it means to live one's passion. They followed the spark within themselves and turned it into a life dedicated to what they love most – educating people about the importance of these magnificent creatures. Their unwavering commitment to their cause not only enriches the lives of those they encounter but also serves as a beacon of hope for anyone striving to make a difference in the world by pursuing their dreams. In Brooke and Morgan, we see the transformative power of following one's passion and the profound impact it can have on both individuals and society as a whole because they are living their purpose and passion.

Self-proclaimed bird nerds, they exuded a contagious enthusiasm for their work that was truly inspiring. Morgan's journey, in particular, spoke volumes about dedication and commitment. Starting as a volunteer at the young age of 12, she has since evolved into a seasoned bird handler, traveling across Canada and even participating in movie sets and documentaries about these magnificent creatures.

Morgan's career has taken her on many adventures, one of which stands out when she ventured to Manitoba to work on wildlife rehabilitation management for a construction area. It was a journey that solidified her passion for animal care, steering her away from the traditional vet path and towards the fulfilling world of bird handling. For her, volunteering at the Raptors Centre was more than just a hobby; it was the realization of her purpose.

A quote from Morgan resonated with me deeply: "Don't take for granted the birds we see every day. Appreciate these magnificent creatures that are around us because they are pretty incredible." It's a sentiment that encapsulates the essence of their work – encouraging people to look up, to notice the beauty and wonder that surrounds them every day.

The raptors at the center, they have either wild non-releasable birds or birds raised in human carehand by the team, each have their own story to tell. Brooke, like Morgan, began her journey as a volunteer eight years ago and has worked her way up to becoming an experienced handler. Together, they form an exceptional tag team, their synergy evident in the seamless way they work with the birds.

Brooke, on the other hand, shared her goal of creating an emotional connection with these birds through her work. "My goal through my work is to help people create an emotional connection with these birds because they are more likely to create a memory that will lead to good actions if they have that connection," she said. Brooke's favorite bird is the turkey vulture, which she fondly describes as the golden retriever of the bird world and that was evidenced when she walked side by side with the bird throughout the crowd as if Goblin was on a leash.

I asked her for a top memory from her eight years at the center, and she recounted her favorite memory of when she first fed Kyle the raven. She told me that Kyle holds a special place at the center because, as a baby, he was attacked by a dog and saved by a compassionate human who took him to a wildlife rehab center. Unfortunately, Kyle never fully recovered from the ordeal. The attack damaged one of his wings, leaving him unable to fly. Instead, he spends his days with his human friends at the Raptor Centre. Brooke shared that it was at the end of the day when she was feeding all the birds. She placed her feed bucket outside Kyle's cage, opened the door, and unexpectedly, he eagerly jumped in, devouring almost a full chicken's worth of meat before waddling back into his cage. It was a magnificent encounter with a wild animal, and a memory that will stay with Brooke forever.

What struck me most during my time at the center was not just the awe-inspiring presence of these creatures, but also the invaluable education that Brooke and Morgan provide to visitors and the community. It's easy to overlook the diverse species of birds that surround us every day, but their beautiful songs and majestic presence serve as a reminder of their importance in our ecosystem.

Brooke and Morgan are on a mission to bridge this gap of awareness. Through their work, they hope to inspire people of all ages to appreciate and support these magnificent creatures every day. Their dedication to conservation and education is not just commendable; it's essential for the preservation of our planet's biodiversity.

I discovered that Brooke and Morgan (and the other handlers) have a deep connection with the birds under their care. They give them the utmost care and attention, always prioritizing their physical and mental health. Constantly learning and seeking ways to improve their quality of life, the well-being of their feathered friends is at the forefront of their minds.

As I left the Pacific Northwest Raptors Centre, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the opportunity to witness firsthand the passion and dedication of individuals like Brooke and Morgan. They are not just handlers; they are stewards of nature, working tirelessly to ensure that future generations inherit a world where the skies are still filled with the breathtaking sight of soaring raptors.

In a world often consumed by chaos and uncertainty, it's comforting to know that there are still people like Brooke and Morgan, and the other folks at the Raptor Centre quietly making a difference, one bird at a time. And for me, I'm grateful to have captured a small glimpse of their extraordinary work through my lens. I highly recommend a visit to The Raptor's Centre in Duncan. You won't regret it.

"I'm profoundly thankful to the Raptor Centre for entrusting me to intertwine my art with their vital mission, allowing me to share their work with the world."

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