This cage is designed for conditioning birds of prey that have recovered from injuries and are preparing for release back into the wild. It is unlike traditional flight cages in that it allows the birds to fly in a continuous circle rather than just from end to end of the typical long narrow flight cage. It is the first of its kind to be built in the VA area.
Adult birds that had survival skills before being injured are taken back to where they were found and released. But young birds may need additional support to make the transition from life in captivity to life in the wild. Without strong flight skills, the birds can’t hunt.And if they can’t hunt, they can’t eat. And, if they can’t eat, survival becomes tentative. The flight cage will give the raptors a place to build up their flight muscles.
$100,000 for the cage was raised primarily through grants.
Called a “continuous flyway,” the exterior flying ring is 14 feet wide in a building that is approximately 65 feet by 50 feet. The oval interior allows birds to fly around and around to condition their muscles. The walls of the cage are slats that allow airflow but look like a barrier. Raptors tend to fly straight into wire.
While all birds benefit from the space, birds of prey require the long flight path more than other birds do. The structure is only the second facility in Virginia that offers a space large enough for raptors.The other large flight cage is located at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.
There, birds have a narrow 100-foot-long cage where they can fly back and forth. About 80 percent of the birds of prey at the center have been hit by cars.