Big birds, fishing star at Carolina raptor center

Posted June 19, 2009 2:05 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2009 9:25 a.m. EDT

— Sharp-clawed, strong-beaked and feather-filled, eagles and hawks provide summer entertainment – and education – at the Carolinas Raptor Center, north of Charlotte.

About a half-dozen bald eagles live at the center, along with turkey vultures, owls and other birds of prey. All of the birds were rescued, and their condition prevents them from being released into the wild.

Instead, they are the stars of educational programs and exhibits at the raptor center.

Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for children age 6 and older and free for children 5 and younger.

Surrounding the raptor center is the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, with 16 miles of horse-riding and hiking trails winding through woods. The nature center can provide visitors with information about what can be found along the trails.

"You don't need sunscreen. It's nice and shady," said tourist Jeniffer McCall, who brought her daughters, Hailey and Hannah, to the raptor center and nature preserve for the first time.

Melvin Geiger has brought his grandson Jaysean to fish in Latta Nature Preserve for the past 10 years.

"It's good bonding time," Geiger said. "He can take me fishing when he gets old."

The nature preserve and center aim to be a peaceful place where worries ripple away. Admission is free, and the center loans fishing rods to visitors who need the fishing implements.