A Toddler Afternoon at Birds of Prey
Finding hands-on and interactive activities to enjoy with a toddler can be a bit of a challenge. You want to make sure that said toddler will expend as much energy as possible before nap time; it is also a great idea to be at a place where constant stress for yourself can be avoided—for example, a blown glass exhibit with a rambunctious toddler is a stroke waiting to happen. And extra brownie points for an activity that is outside so the little munchkin can soak up as much Vitamin D and fresh air as possible.
Enter in our afternoon at the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, Alberta. The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre has been a preeminent rehabilitation and breeding facility for wild and endangered birds since 1984. They proffer a wealth of knowledge and advocate for habitat preservation and protection while offering hands-on learning and experiences with birds. In our case, they checked all of our toddler activity requirements, so we made the 20-minute drive from Lethbridge to the Centre for a few hours of learning and energy-expending.
As soon as we entered the Centre, my son was drawn to the baby owl that was hanging out with the staff. The 6-week old owl was kept inside to be fed on a regular schedule by the staff. He was a very social little thing, and the more you talked/made noises at him, the more he made noises and his neck would swivel and pivot in excitement!
Following our welcome reception to the Centre, we made our round through the Hawk Walk. Red pathways take you to each bird perch and you can find out their name and what type of bird they are. We were lucky enough to be there at the same time as a school group so we stayed close to them to hear all the neat information about a variety of birds and some of the heartbreaking backstories for some of the rescued birds. My son was lucky enough to hold Basil the Burrowing Owl! The size was a good fit I think.
We also got to witness a flight demonstration where Roosevelt the Bald Eagle flew from perch to perch getting fed a treat of raw chicken while stretching his wings. Fun fact that we learned: birds don’t sweat to cool down, they pant like a dog! I really enjoyed the information we learned during the flight demonstration, but my son is a more hands-on type, and preferred feeding the ducks and geese! The Centre provided us with a Ziploc bag of feed for the birds and we spent a good amount of time feeding (read: throwing seed haphazardly at) the hungry birds. This part is fenced off just to keep the ducks in one place and you are encouraged to go in and stroll along the pathways.
After thoroughly washing our hands, we followed up our bird-filled afternoon with a picnic on the grass in front of the Centre. Jason devoured his PB&J and then promptly fell asleep on our way out of the parking lot, and for the mom of a toddler, this is the biggest accolade you can receive.
Click here for more stories we’ve uncovered.
Click here for more experiences in southern Alberta.