Friday, 31 August 2007


Raptors are birds of prey. The word has nothing to do with dinosaurs, though there was a dinosaur of the Cretaceous period called a velociraptor. Like spiders (British ones anyway), they pose no danger to humans but inspire fear, perhaps from memories of childrens' stories about eagles carrying off babies.

I learnt this and much more from seeing some demonstrations given by the Raptor Centre at Groombridge Place in Kent. Here is a photo I took of one of the stars, Helga (there are many better ones of her and others on the website), who is an American Bald Eagle, though actually bred in captivity in Nuremburg.

The centre is a long-established sanctuary for raptors, and has nothing to do with falconry which, for all its long history, strikes me as an unattractive sport.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't help noticing that Helga is not, in fact, bald.

Tony said...

Well spotted: no bald eagles are bald.
"Bald" here is derived from the word "piebald", and refers to the white head and tail feathers and their contrast with the darker body.

Hugh said...

Others say that its name was given by the early settlers in America and comes from the Old English word balled, which means white.