Day Trip: Nose to Beak With Birds of Prey

The World Bird Sanctuary is a zoo of sorts for birds of prey that offers visitors an up-close look at some of nature's most fascinating creatures.

Ever want to get nose to beak with our national bird? Then head down to the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park to see Bald Eagles, hawks, vultures, owls and all sorts of other deadly feathered creatures.

One of the sanctuary’s missions is to help injured birds of prey and return them back to the wild. Unfortunately, not all the birds that come through their doors are able to make full recoveries and become residents.

These are the birds you’ll find on display or in educational programs the WBS staff puts on locally and around the country. For example, Liberty the Bald Eagle was hit by a car in Florida and has permanent eye damage. Frazzle is an Eastern Screech Owl who can no longer hunt after he lost an eye. Both now call the sanctuary home and are available for viewing.

Other birds were born at the sanctuary as part of a breeding program to replenish their species. The WBS is responsible for removing the barn owl from Missouri’s endangered species list—over 900 barn owls hatched at the sanctuary have been released to the wild. The sanctuary also breeds birds of prey for zoos around the country.

If you go, bring walking shoes and a water bottle. The bird’s display areas are spread far apart, and you’ll want to see them all. Many birds are housed in flight cages down a gravel Bird Walk, while others spend the day on perches near the visitor’s center. Don’t worry—the experts at the sanctuary say that even birds in the wild spend most of their free time perched in trees and don’t require the same amount of exercise as mammals.

Be sure to visit the gift shop, located at the base of the amphitheater. Here you’ll find more birds as well as a few snakes, a bunny and an armadillo. The amphitheater is also where you can catch a free animal show on the weekends.

Check their online calendar to find other programs they offer through the year, like bird shows, evening owl prowls and nature hikes.

If you want to make a day of it, bring a picnic lunch to eat under a shady pavilion in the main visitor’s area. The sanctuary backs up to Lone Elk Park and Castlewood’s Chubb Trail so there’s plenty of hiking to do in the area. Lone Elk is home to a drive through nature preserve where you can see elk and bison without even leaving your car.

The not-for-profit sanctuary is open to the public seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free of charge. Donation boxes are located in display areas if you want to help feed the birds. The World Bird Sanctuary is located at 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Road in Valley Park.

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