- Sharron Montgomery Pena
Life with Flight of the Raptor-Feb update
Hi friends. This is my second update for the year. I’m hoping to provide a monthly update for those interested in what has been going on in our world lately, as well as to keep honing my writing skills. I have kept written journals off and on for most of my life and enjoyed a lot of writing success in college. Resurrecting it during this pandemic has been somewhat of a blessing for me to reconnect with this part of myself as well as to improve the content of our website. Like many of you, I first enjoyed Flight of the Raptor and the incredible flights of the falcons. I was working as a wildlife rehabilitator when I first saw the show almost 20 years ago, and I was sceptical of the educational content of a “bird show” at a renaissance festival. I soon learned however, that sharing his passion for birds of prey with others was the driving force behind Ray’s presence in renaissance festivals. Sure, it is a lot of fun, but without the educational message, we are doing a disservice to the birds and their wild cousins.
Aside from Ray's continued challenges with his pain, we have remained healthy for the most part, and we are still keeping ourselves mostly at home due to the pandemic. Although the Brevard Renaissance Fair remained open this year, we opted out of attending because of the high risk for Ray and myself, as well bringing the coronavirus home to him. In addition to his history with cancer, Ray continues to suffer neurological effects of the brain surgeries and chemotherapy. Any further damage to his neurological system would certainly be extremely undesirable to say the least. We are very pleased that he has received his first vaccination and is scheduled for his second next week.
We are also very happy that our fellow participants were able to work this year, some for the first time since the pandemic closed renaissance festivals in March of 2020. Likewise, the somber environment of life during the pandemic has weighed heavily on many. The opportunity to get out and have some fun has surely lifted a lot spirits of both the participants as well as faire-goers alike. The reports we have heard from Brevard are encouraging. People have been socially responsible, an encouraging trend that we hope will continue.
The Florida Renaissance Festival however, has been cancelled for the season. The southernmost counties of Florida, took the brunt of the pandemic in Florida. Likewise, Quiet Waters Park is a major location of covid testing presently and throughout the past year. Logistically it would have been a nightmare. Although it left a lot of people disappointed, we believe it was the right decision. What an incredible celebration it will be next year for people to reunite and celebrate the end of this dark chapter in our lives.
The Viera Birding and Wildlife Festival in Viera (Melbourne) has cancelled as well. Although this is only a weekend festival, it is an incredible location which I enjoy visiting. It is an intimate setting, but the crowds are very friendly, enthusiastic, and grateful for the experience of seeing the birds up close and their flight. Occasionally we are treated to a visit by one of the resident caracaras, a unique and colorful bird of prey in the falcon family. They are one of the most intelligent birds of prey I have had the privilege to care for in my wildlife career.
Meanwhile back at home, all the birds remain well. The chilly weather has been conducive to flight, and we were able to get a lot of falcons flying during the month of January. Katara, our peregrine falcon had suffered a lot of difficulty for the past couple of years since her collison and coincidentally, Ray’s cancer. It seems that her faltering confidence has been restored and we clocked her at speeds of 50 mph in flight.
Even our youngest and slowest, Salim, the lanner falcon has worked his way up to speeds of 40 mph as he continues to get stronger and develops his confidence level. We are fortunate that we have such a large area of continuous fields behind our property in which to fly the falcons. The sight distance is several miles and the farming activity level by at the current time gives us the area to ourselves.
We will continue to bring you articles that explore various topics that are at the center of Flight of the Raptor’s mission and experiences. We know you love our birds and our program (us too!) but we hope to deepen your understanding of our connection, your connection, and their connection to the world we share. Together we can promote the ideas of conservation of what is necessary to help them survive for many generations to come.
If you would like to help support Flight of the Raptor please go to our online store here for sponsorship and purchase options.