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The Nate-ure Report: Birds of prey take flight at El Paso Zoo

EL PASO, Texas -- Sharp Talons, Curved Beaks, Precise Vision.

Birds of prey use all of them to hunt mammals for food. 

For the Harris hawk, a raptor of the Southwest skies, the mission is cooperative before unloading on it’s prey.

"They are known as the wolves of the sky, so they would actually form a pack, like wolves," says El Paso Zoo director of education Heather Rivera on the hawk's hunting tendency.

"They would then possibly circle their prey to be able to get to their prey to fly down to it. Or even have a few of them stand guard while one of them goes into main pursuit," she says.

The zoo receives about 200 birds of prey from the wild a year, often in need of rehabilitation from injury, like the great Horned owl or Swainson hawk. 

"We do get them from animal control, some of the local facilities here," says Rivera. "Sanctuaries here, rescue agencies will bring them to us. Veterinarians then do all that they can to make sure that they are good health wise."

But perhaps the best-known bird of prey in the zoo’s rehab program, the Golden Eagle. 

One of the largest and fastest raptors in North America, the eagle at the zoo was rescued from the wild to rehab her injured wing.

It’s presence is mesmerizing. The V-shape glide of the golden eagle, reminiscent of an F-15 fighter jet cutting through the clouds.

And given a little more time, pretty soon the zoo's golden aircraft will be clear for takeoff.


Nate Ryan

Nate Ryan is an ABC-7 sports anchor/reporter.


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