Saturday, March 30, 2013

Come Visit The Landing Zone!

Photo By Richard Menard Jr

We are so pleased to invite you to visit our newest exhibit, The Landing Zone. Our new interactive exhibit allows visitors like you to enter and feed the birds in a unique setting that allows one-on-one contact. At the entrance, you can purchase seed sticks or flamingo food then enter our walk-in aviary to feed a bird...or ten! But please watch your feet, as our Budgerigar Parakeets (also known as Budgies) have no fear and will easily land to explore the ground near your feet. Native to Australia, these little parakeets fly about the exhibit like colorful gems. In the wild, these birds are typically a brilliant green, but our captive-bred birds come in a beautiful variety of colors.

Other birds in our exhibit include Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Javan Pond Herons, Green-Winged Doves, Nicobar Pigeons, American Flamingos and more.

So grab your camera, your family and friends and meet us at The Landing Zone!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birds of Prey at Sylvan Heights

by Sylvan Heights Staff

Falconry is the use of a bird of prey - such as a falcon - to hunt with, and is arguably one of the oldest sports known to man. Earliest records have it dated back to 2000 B.C in the Tigris-Euphrates river system. Many people think of falconry as the sport of kings, but it wasn’t actually introduced to Europe until about 350 A.D when Mongol tribes invaded Western Europe. Falconry has remained much the same since its conception, with only a few technological advances in the last twenty years changing the sport slightly.
Here at Sylvan Heights we have four species of raptor, also known as birds of prey. The term “raptor” comes from the Latin word rapere meaning to seize or plunder with force. The word refers to the hunting style of hawks, eagles, and falcons, with many species using their feet to grab their prey. Our collection of raptors is financially supported through the generous donations of our sponsors, with three of the species on public display. You can see our breeding pair of Eurasian Eagle owls (Bubo bubo), that are considered one of the most genetically important pairs in the country, on display across from our picnic area. And a new pair of burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) is now on display, too. We have high hopes of future success with them.

We also have plans for a future bateleur eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus) exhibit. Currently, our single male is part of only a handful of bateleurs in the United States, with the last successful breeding almost fifteen years ago. It is their precarious future in captivity that has us interested in working with this species.
Sylvan is also home to a female red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) named Cara. She is different than our other species of raptors because she is used as a falconry bird. Our resident falconer trapped her in October 2012 and has been training her ever since. Red-tails are a favorite hawk in the sport because the species is found throughout the United States. Young birds are trapped from the wild because their mortality rate is naturally extremely high, with an estimated 1 in 10 reaching adulthood. With such a high mortality, taking a young bird has no detrimental effect on the population. In fact, many responsible falconers release their birds after several hunting seasons so they can carry out their natural life cycles, and because these birds have survived their first year and know how to hunt they tend to be very successful after their release.

Cara is off exhibit, but some of our Sylvan Heights members receive flight demonstrations for special occasions, getting to meet her and her falconer up close and personal. But for those of you interested in meeting Cara or learning more about the sport of falconry, Sylvan will be hosting Raptors Rule on April 20th, an event sponsored by the North Carolina Science Festival. Come join us as Sylvan Heights staff member and falconer, Dustin Foote, gives a talk about the sport of falconry and raptors.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Mill Pond Project

By Dustin Foote

Water is the foundation for a healthy ecosystem. Sylvan Heights recognizes that relationship and strives to improve upon our natural world. That is why in 2010 we began the steps to procure land on a 150 year old mill pond. Over two years later, and tremendous effort from numerous groups, we are nearing completion on the Mill Pond Project. It is our hope that by Fall of 2013 we will be able to begin to show visitors a primal world, where you will have a exciting opportunity to kayak among an old growth cypress swamp. Sylvan has high hopes that this eco-tour will spur visitors to reconnect with their natural environment.

While much has been achieved, there are still many steps left for the project. As environmental stewards of this venture, Sylvan has focused its energy on managing the remaining natural flora and fauna, while promoting the growth of those species to which have been lost. A portion of our land grant has been set aside to be returned to natural Long Leaf Pine (Pinus palustris.) Long Leaf Pine is a slow growing native conifer that has largely disappeared from North Carolina, being replaced by faster growing species for the lumber industry. With its disappearance, many species that depended on the pine stands have also vanished. Sylvan hopes that by restoring a small reservoir we can create a natural refuge for species such as the Scarlet Kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) or the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis). Sylvan hopes that its contribution will inspire others to follow in its footsteps, for it recognizes the fact that much effort is needed to save these species.

Recently Sylvan has begun preparation for a flash burn of the future Long Leaf Pine stand. Long Leaf Pines are one of the species that depend on forest fires for regeneration. During this time, our staff has been lucky enough to observe American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla), Common Yellowthroats (Geothlypis trichas), Black-and-white Warblers (Mniotilta varia), Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea), Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Great Egrets (Ardea alba), Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias), and many more. These are just some of the species visitors will have the chance to see.

On the bottom end of the 350 acre pond Sylvan has repaired the dam and incorporated a fish ladder. This restoration has raised the water level back to its historic level, and will allow Sylvan to manage cypress growth more effectively. Cypress trees need periods of drought to allow for seeds to germinate. In addition, the fish ladder will allow fresh water spawning species access to the pond.

We are very excited to continue our work on the Mill Pond Project, and look forward to sharing this treasure with you in the near future.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Science at Sylvan: The Best Questions Lead to Another

By SHWP Staff

In today’s world, we are so concerned with answers that we often forget the question that was asked. For what is an answer, but a base for another question? Science is all about pursuing questions, and here at Sylvan Heights we love to get you asking them. We ask questions every day, questions that make us better aviculturists, better ornithologists, and better scientists overall. Whether it's participating in one of our education programs, walking through the aviaries, or watching eggs hatch, our goal is to get you up close to birds. We hope that by engaging you, we can get you excited enough to start thinking about the science process.

Our newest addition is well underway, and it is our hope that it will bring your interaction to a higher level. The Landing Zone will be a massive, walk-in aviary with a weight-managed flock of small parrots and many other species of birds. Why are they weight managed you ask? Because you will be getting up close and personal with these birds by feeding them. Visitors will get a rare chance to spend time observing birds as they feed freely out of their hands. We hope this exhibit will excite you as much as it excites us! We look forward to opening it soon.

So come on out to Sylvan, get excited about science, start asking questions about the natural world, and see where that takes you!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Final Call for Chili Supper Entries!

The 3rd annual Chili Cook-Off at Sylvan Heights will take place this March 17th, 2012 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sylvan Heights Bird Park! We are still looking for entries, so if you have an award-winning chili recipe, register in the contest and try your hand at winning the Grand Prize or People's Choice Award. To register, please contact the park at 252.826.3186.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to Sylvan Heights

Happy New Year! In celebration of this new year, we'd like to share with you our new welcome video. We hope to see you at the park soon...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sylvan Heights Kicks-Off Its Annual "12 Birds of Christmas" Event

If you haven't stopped by the Park lately, now's the best time to do so! Starting today, our annual 12 Birds of Christmas game will run through the end of the year. This holiday game is fun for people of all ages, and takes our visitors on a scavenger hunt throughout the park for the 12 bird species mentioned in our own version of the popular holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. See if you can spot the swans-a-swimming, geese-a-laying, calling birds, and of course, the partridge in a pear tree!

While you're there, think about catching up on your holiday gift buying. Our gift shop is stocked and ready with lots of fabulous products for children and adults. Take advantage of our current sale on embroidered sweatshirts, or consider buying a membership for a friend.

Happy holidays!