Thursday, May 14, 2009

Birds of Prey Festival in Kuna a great opportunity to see raptors up close and personal

Sunrise in Snake River Birds of Prey Area

Morley (with hat standing up) and Steve Guinn lead a tour

Steve with Slim, a golden eagle, in Stanley

Morley Nelson w/falcon on fist
Hey all,

For this week's Tip of the Week, I recommend the Snake River Birds of Prey Festival in Kuna this weekend, Friday, May 15 - Sunday, May 17.

On Friday night, you can enjoy a program about world-renowned birds of prey champion Morley Nelson, beginning at 6 p.m. at Reed Elementary School in Kuna. Morley brought the cause of raptor conservation into everyone's living room in multiple Walt Disney pictures and ABC-TV Wild Kingdom features, among many other movies that he participated in.

On Saturday or Sunday, you can sign up for an easy-going stillwater float trip on the Snake River above Swan Falls Dam with Birds of Prey Expeditions owner Steve Guinn. Bring your binos -- you'll see golden eagles on the nest, prairie falcons zooming amid the rock cliffs in flight, and enjoy many other hawks and owls on the trip. The yawning Snake River canyon is beautiful in this reach -- brilliant orange-mocha sheer walls form the bookends of the canyon.

The program on Morley Nelson is free. The boat trips are $70 for adults and $35 for children. Call 658-9980 or email for more information or to book a trip. I've done it several times, and it's a great way to spend a sunny weekend day.

As you might recall, I have a special affinity for the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area because I knew Morley. I knew how he had personally discovered that the Snake River canyon was unique in the world as a nesting refuge for a wide variety of birds of prey, particularly golden eagles and prairie falcons. I spent two years of my life writing Morley's biography, Cool North Wind: Morley Nelson's Life with Birds of Prey (Caxton Press, 2002).

Morley's sons, Tyler and Norman, will give a presentation on Morley's life and play a 30-minute highlight reel, featuring some awesome footage of birds of prey in flight and tail-chasing prey.

Morley was truly one of a kind. It was a privilege to know him and spend time with him.

No matter if you catch the program on Morley Friday night or if you go on a boat trip, you'll understand why the Snake River canyon has a special place in the world, and it's right here in our own backyard.

- SS