TODAY   |  May 02, 2013

Sara has a hoot visiting hawks, owls, eagles

TODAY’s Sara Haines visits the Center for Birds of Prey in Charleston, which rehabilitates more than 500 injured birds per year and helps them heal before releasing them back into wild.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> you know what, sara made her way to the center for birds of prey .

>> i'm a little afraid of this.

>> it's a wonderful place that hosts baby birds and more importantly it's a rehab center that hopefully gets these birds back in the air.

>> vultures circle overhead are a clear sign that you're at the center for birds of prey . here, hawks and other large birds are trained to show off their awe-inspiring flights. the training starts early.

>> he does not like being in that box.

>> the barn owl still sports his down-like feathers.

>> a name would constitute an animal being a pet. so we have to be very careful that people don't associate this cute young animal that is hanging out around people, behaving kind of like a pet animal , might.

>> this little guy may not get a name, but he already has a zoo in colorado waiting to host him.

>> he cranes his next to help focus and explores his surroundings like a toddler. he's obviously a little hungry. so i help feed him a lunch of gourmet mice.

>> if you hold it close to his face and wig it will around, this is the glamorous part of the job .

>> the center also serves as a hospital for injured birds like this wild hawk. undergoing anesthesia for an x-ray.

>> we inserted a pin surgically to align the bone during the healing process .

>> from wounded wings to broken bones , about 500 wild birds are brought here every year. the goal is to help heal them and when they're ready, the center releases them back to the wild. like this american bald eagle .

>> why is the focus here on birds of prey .

>> every bird that comes into the hospital has a story. there's a reason why it's here. and birds of prey , because of that niche that they occupy in the ecosystem, very often are the first impacted by some issue.

>> of all the birds at the cent, there was one flying favorite i couldn't wait to meet. this eurasian owl.

>> you hold your hand up and off she goes. it takes your breath away. this up-close and personal rush enraptures audiences, teaching the importance of these winged wonders to the environment around us.

>> you can see attitudes shift about how important these birds are to us. when we begin to think about that, and to think of how we connect to that and them to us. it's a light bulb that goes off.

>> so can you see being here with them, what a wonderful place it is.

>> it is.

>> we have the founder and executive director of the avian conservation center.

>> jim, keep your eye on this bad boy right here.

>> we have birds flying over our audience, is that safe?

>> yes it is.

>> not if they're going to go poo-poo.

>> we only lost one person.

>> this is a peregrine falcon . quite a successful conservation story. it was almost eliminated from north america because of toxins, now the bird population has stabilized.

>> that's amazing.

>> we want to thank you for all that you're doing. thank you for coming to see us.

>> and we want to thank everybody in charleston.