It's not that often that you see falcon ride a thermal above Marion Square and dive toward the ground at 150 miles per hour (and no, we're not exaggerating). If that was a regular occurrence — and quite frankly, we're not even sure if there's ever been a single instance of that happening — we seriously doubt you'd see that many bikini-wearing sunbathers and their tiny dogs lounging about. The falcon is a bird of prey, after all.
However, for three days, the Center for Birds of Prey will host a Birds of Prey demo. And there will be more than just hawks flying around. "We will be showing an assortment of owls, falcons, hawks, vultures, and eagles," says Stephen Schabel, director of education at the center. "These animals are magnificent to watch, and this is a great opportunity to interact with them up close." During the demonstrations, the birds will be exhibiting their natural flight behaviors such as diving and catching food out of mid-air. (One again, you've been warned. Keep that accessory chihuahua in your pocketbook.)
In addition to the live demonstrations, visitors will be offered a chance to learn more about birds of prey, thanks to a tent where they'll be able to examine bird skulls, talons, and feathers. They'll also get a chance to dissect various bird eggs.
Schabel says, "These animals are intimidating predators, but they are also important environmental health indicators." Most visitors will not be able to touch the live birds, but she says they will allow a few volunteers to interact with the raptors.
On Saturday morning at the Francis Marion Hotel, the Center for Birds of Prey hosts a buffet-style brunch. Jim Elliot, executive director at the center, will speak and showcase a few of the impressive animals. The buffet will include shrimp and grits, various pastries, fruit, and frittata. Drinks will include bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys.