State of the Art Flight Cage

By Dennis O'Connor

The newest and biggest addition to the Wild Bunch Refuge facility is a flight cage for Raptors and other big birds. It is a 60' x 60' octagonal building that is arranged so that the interior is a 100' continuous circular flyway. The flyway is 12' wide and 18' high. There is a double door entrance into the flyway. Four large holding cages in the interior of the circle provide ample space for birds that are under observation and/or awaiting their turn in the flyway. A doored hallway opening from the flyway between the two pens on the left and the two on the right enables easy access for feeding and moving the birds. Skylights and open slatted portions in the roof allow more light and air into the interior.

The birds can fly as long as they want in the 100' continuous circular flyway without having to stop. This provides a bird greater opportunity to get the type of exercise needed to strengthen its flying muscles. We have had as many as eight Barred Owls flying in the flyway at the same time this year. Great Horned Owls, Black Vultures, Bald Eagles, and even a large gull have used it at one time or another. The flyway and the holding cages have many perches so that they always have a convenient place to land and observe activities. The only time we go in there is to feed and clean, or to deliver or remove various birds.

Having this facility for the big birds frees up other cages for smaller raptors and mammals. A cage that had been built for Red Tailed Hawks is now home to several Screech Owls. Two other cages that were used for the Great Horned Owls and the Barred Owls are now used for various animals including 20 young skunks.

Our old rectangular flight cage is still used for the Ospreys because they have special needs. We currently have an adult wild turkey in that flight cage which was raised from a chick. He was self-released (escaped), but returned many weeks later looking very healthy. He was easily caught and put into the old flight cage to protect him during the hunting season, but will be released shortly.