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'The Runway' raptor enclosure opens at the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation

MADDEN, Alta. -

Staff at the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) say the newest enclosure called 'The Runway' will help injured birds recovery quicker by allowing them to strengthen their muscles before being released back into the wild.

"It's really nice for them," said Cara Newberry, AIWC veterinarian.

"We have adjustable perches at different heights so it really encourages them to get more lift, when they really power down with their wings and use their keel muscles to get off the ground."

Newberry says the new 246-square-metre pen has five enclosures where some can be opened to create a larger space for the birds.

"We have a curved area so it's nice to be able to see them turn and bank and make sure that they're perching landing properly," she said.

"Our old flight pen was pretty low so it was just back and forth to the perch, which isn't quite as much exercise as they're going to need to be hunting and flying up and down so we want to see them fly beautifully."

The $120,000 project was sponsored by Inter Pipeline and saw its first birds in March.

Scottie Potter, the facility's communications coordinator, says the space will be well used when it starts seeing more patients as the temperature warms.

"Great Horned Owls are our most common raptor patients," she said.

"They just edged out Swainson's Hawks as the most common raptor set coming here as adults."

Potter says AIWC has produced a new YouTube series called 'Alberta Wildlife Insider' with an episode featuring the Alberta provincial birds in its care.

"It's something that is pretty unique in the wildlife rehabilitation world, doing an educational series specifically about the science of rehabilitation," she said.

"We're really glad that this is going to be a resource for educators in schools, homeschoolers, libraries, those sorts of things, having all of that information kind of compacted into these six to 10-minute videos is going to be huge resource for folks."

Newberry says the birds in the new wooden enclosure seem to be enjoying the height and length of it.

"Just having more options of where we can put birds is huge," she said. "Especially when we have to match them by species or some can't live with the same one of another species so we just need more spots to exercise them so it'll allow us to graduate them faster through care."

Other species that will utilize The Runway include hawks, eagles, and ravens.

Learn more about the institute here. Top Stories

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