Houston Audubon Raptor Photography Shoot
Throughout the year, the Houston Audubon Raptor and Education Center hosts numerous Raptor Photography Shoots. This program is geared towards adults and provides individuals with the chance to photograph hawks, falcons, and owls up close. However, it’s important to note that the location of upcoming photo shoots may vary. Be sure to check the Houston Audubon website before signing up.
During the photography shoot, you have the chance to see some of the wildest raptors native to Texas. The images below feature several birds that can be photographed during the Raptor Photography Shoot.
Juliet the Barred Owl
Meet Juliet the barred owl, one of the education ambassadors for the Houston Audubon Raptor and Education Center. Barred owls are one of the largest owls in North America and are quite unique. These owls have white and brown feathers and a light beak. Unlike most owls, however, the barred owl has solid brown eyes, giving it an eery look. Despite their size, these birds only weigh around one and a half pounds.
Juliet lives in an aviary at the Houston Audubon Raptor and Education Center. As the play would have it, it appears that she has attracted her own Romeo. Romeo is a wild barred owl that visits Juliet outside her aviary on a regular basis. Learn more about their love story.
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. However, contrary to its name, the Mississippi kite can be found flying around the Great Plains. Their main source of food is insects.
Percy the Eastern Screech Owl
Next up is Percy the eastern screech owl. As its name suggests, the eastern screech owl can be found throughout the eastern portion of the United States. These are one of the smallest owls in North America and weigh in at just under six ounces. Eastern screech owls have yellow eyes and are covered in either gray or red feathers (rufous morph).
By looking at this photo, you can see that his 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 and Education Center.
Luna the Swallow-Tailed Kite
Meet Luna the swallow-tailed kite. These birds are not common to Texas and are typically only seen during migration. Swallow-tailed kits reside in swamplands located in Florida or South Carolina and eventually migrate to South America.
Geddy the Barn Owl
Our next education ambassador is Geddy the barn owl. Barn owls are one of the most common owls in the United States and can be seen in nearly every state. In addition, they have one of the most unique feather patterns and can use their wings to silently sneak up on prey. Males tend to have more white feathers around their faces, while females have darker feathers on their face.
Winston the Red-Tailed Hawk
Here’s our next ambassador Winston the red-tailed hawk. Red-tailed hawks are extremely common to the U.S. and can be found in every state except for Hawaii. As their name suggests, these hawks have a tail made of reddish feathers.
If you didn’t know, birds have tongues too. While photographing Winston, he turned and posed while sticking his tongue out.
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 weigh only about three pounds. These owls can easily be distinguished, not only by their size, but also by their ear-life tufts.
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. However, 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.
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. Therefore, they rely on these nests in order to raise chicks and survive in the wild. One added benefit to putting up a purple martin house 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 photoshoot help ensure that these birds have sufficient food, housing, and care.
Finally, if you’re looking for a direct way to give back, the Houston Audubon has an Adopt-a-Bird program. For more information, check out the resources below.