MDC's Powder Valley Nature Center features night with falconers and birds of prey

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Kirkwood, Mo — Bird buffs, falcon fanciers and anyone enraptured by raptors are invited to meet the objects of their admiration close up at An Evening with Raptors.

An Evening with Raptors is a free event hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood. It takes place Friday, Jan. 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. and is open to all ages.

According to Assistant Nature Center Manager Catherine McGrane, the first part of the evening includes an educational presentation on raptors—or birds of prey—and the sport of falconry. Falconry is the art of training raptors to capture wild game, so that bird and trainer essentially become hunting partners. The use of falconry can be traced back to 700 B.C.E., and by some accounts even farther back in time.

The second half of the evening, visitors will get a chance to see living raptors close up as Missouri falconers bring their birds for what McGrane refers to as a “meet and greet”.

“I find it very exciting to be that close a live bird of prey,” said McGrane. “They’re not behind glass or in cages or anything, just right there in front of you. You can get within two feet of them.”

There will be ample opportunities to see the birds in person and take photographs. McGrane encourages visitors to bring their cameras. The falconers will be on hand to answer questions about the birds and their sport, as well as display equipment used in falconry.

A kids' craft station will entertain younger children, and a bird discovery table will allow people of all ages to discover these amazing birds by engaging the senses of sight, sound and touch. Naturalists will be available to answer questions.

An evening with Raptors is free but advanced registration is required. To sign up, visitors should call 314-301-1500.

Powder Valley Nature Center is located at 11715 Cragwold Road in Kirkwood, near the intersection of I-44 and I-270. The nature center is owned and operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, and has been helping people discover nature for over 20 years.