Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot blog post by Sara Turbyfill.

Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot

Throughout the year, the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center hosts several events. One of the most popular events is the Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot. This program is geared towards adults and provides individuals with the chance to photograph hawks, falcons, and owls up close.

Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot

The Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot costs about $50 per person and lasts approximately 2 hours. It’s important to note that the location of the event may vary. Before registering, be sure to check the Raptor Photography Shoot schedule.

During the event, attendees have the chance to photograph several of the wildest raptors found in Texas. A few birds that have been featured in the event include a barred owl, a red-tailed hawk, and a swallow-tailed kite. The images below feature several birds that can be photographed during the raptor photo session.

Juliet the Barred Owl

Meet Juliet the barred owl. She is one of the education ambassadors for the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center. Barred owls are one of the largest owls in North America and are quite unique. These owls have a light beak and are covered in white and brown feathers. Unlike most owls, however, barred owls have solid brown eyes, which gives them an eerie look. Despite their size, these birds only weigh about a pound and a half.

Juliet the barred owl at an event hosted by the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center.

Unfortunately, Juliet has passed away since being photographed at this raptor photoshoot. She used to reside at an aviary at the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center. As the play would have it, she even attracted her very own Romeo. Romeo was a wild barred owl that used to visit Juliet outside her aviary on a regular basis.

Skeeter the Mississippi Kite

Now introducing Skeeter the Mississippi kite. Mississippi kites are considered one of the smaller species of raptors found in the United States. Contrary to their name, however, they are often found flying around the Great Plains, far away from the state that bears their name. Mississippi kites primarily feed on insects as their main source of food.

Skeeter the Mississippi kite featured in Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot photos.

Percy the Eastern Screech Owl

Next up is Percy the eastern screech owl. As their name suggests, eastern screech owls can be found throughout the eastern portion of the United States. They are one of the smallest owls in North America and weigh in at just under 6 ounces. Eastern screech owls have light yellow eyes and are covered in gray or red feathers. Those covered in red feathers are referred to as rufous morphs.

Screech owl photograph by Sara Turbyfill.

By looking at this photo, you can see that Percy’s left eye is not dilated like the right one. While living the wild life, Percy was severely injured and sustained damage to his left eye. Therefore, he cannot be released back into the wild and will remain in the care of the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center.

Luna the Swallow-Tailed Kite

Meet Luna the swallow-tailed kite. Swallow-tailed kites are not common to Texas and are typically only seen during migration. These raptors reside in swamplands located in Florida and surrounding states. In the winter, large groups of swallow-tailed kites migrate to South America.

Luna the swallow-tailed kite featured in Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot photos.

Geddy the Barn Owl

Our next education ambassador is Geddy the barn owl. Barn owls are the most common owls in the United States and are found in nearly every state. They have the most unique feather patterns. When hunting, they use their wings to silently sneak up on prey. Males tend to have more white feathers around their faces, while females display darker feathers in the same areas.

Geddy the barn owl featured in Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot photos.

Winston the Red-Tailed Hawk

Here’s our next ambassador Winston the red-tailed hawk. Red-tailed hawks are extremely common in the United States and can be found in every state except for Hawaii. As their name suggests, these hawks have a tail covered in reddish feathers.

Red-tailed hawk at an event hosted by the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center.

Simon the Great Horned Owl

Next up is Simon the great horned owl. Great horned owls are the largest owl in North America, yet they only weigh about 3 pounds. These owls are easily distinguishable, not only by their size but also by their ear-like tufts.

Simon the great horned owl featured in Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot photos by Sara Turbyfill.

Emilio the Purple Martin

Meet our final ambassador Emilio the purple martin. If it isn’t obvious, Emilio doesn’t fit in with the other birds because he’s not a raptor. Purple martins are classified as swallows and are significantly smaller than raptors.

Sadly, these stunning birds have declined in numbers over the years. Luckily, the National Audubon Society and the Purple Martin Conservation Association have put efforts in place to stop the decline of the purple martin. Surprisingly, one of the ways you can help is to put up purple martin housing in your backyard.

Emilio the purple martin featured in Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot photos by Sara Turbyfill.

Before human interaction, purple martins used to nest in hollow trees entirely on their own. Now, however, they have grown accustomed to man-made nests and refuse to nest anywhere else. As a result, they rely on man-made nests to raise chicks and survive in the wild. One added benefit of putting up purple martin houses in your backyard is that they love to eat insects!

Register for the Next Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot

Unfortunately, all of the birds at the Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot are unable to be released into the wild. Therefore, they are solely used as education ambassadors to help teach the public about the importance of bird conservation. Prices may vary, but you can expect to pay around $50 for the Raptor Photography Shoot. Proceeds from the wildlife photography shoot help ensure these birds have sufficient food, housing, and care.

Finally, if you’re interested in giving back, the Houston Audubon Raptor & Education Center has an Adopt-A-Bird program. Individuals can help support the birds by selecting from one of the 3 tiers available in the program. For more information, check out the Houston Audubon.

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