An Unforgettable Experience With A HAWK At The Raptors!

There he was with his talons holding tightly onto my glove, eyeball to eyeball we were at The Raptors. A real live hawk just landed on my hand! Now that doesn’t happen every day.

This was a forest walk that we soon would not forget.

There we were enjoying a nice stroll through the woods at The Raptors near Duncan, BC when I was told to raise my fist in the air.

I cautiously went for it as the kids and Gretta watched on. Shwooosh! (Yes, literally a Shwooosh!) A hawk appeared out of the forest tree tops flying high at first and then soaring down above the kids heads, then landing graceful right on my raised fist.

There he was with his talons holding tightly onto my glove, eyeball to eyeball we were.  A real live hawk just landed on my hand! Now that doesn’t happen every day.

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Birds Of Prey, Duncan Birds of Prey, Raptors, Duncan Raptors, Cowichan Valley Activities, Vancouver Island Birds Of Prey, Raptors,Photographer: Levi Allen

He and I had our little moment, my moment was complete disbelief that this actually just happened, and partly wondering whether I traveled somewhere through the woods into Narnia. “Anakin” was the hawks name, and as suddenly as he appeared, he was gone again flying back up into the treetop. What an unforgettable experience.

They call it the “Hawk Walk”.

One of the Hands-On Course offerings at The Raptors.

That was our first of many experiences that afternoon that were firsts for the whole family. I love having firsts at 35 years old… they seem harder and harder to come by the older one gets. AND I’m not even that old, right?

My five year was actually the most brave of all of us!

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Vancouver Island The Raptors Birds Of Prey

The Raptors Centre’s primary goal is to help change the way we think about the delicate balance between man and wildlife within the ecosystem we share.

Tina, our amazing Raptor guide for the afternoon, helped us truly see that the best way to impart this important message is to let others see up close how amazing these birds are.

The message came through loud and clear as we had the chance to see these beautiful birds of prey closer than ever before.

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If you are an Islander or visiting from near or far, you need to put a visit to The Raptors on your Vancouver Island vacation list. We are so glad we went with the whole family, the kids absolutely loved it!

It’s a fabulous creative date activity too guys. Back when I was dating, I would have swooped any girl right off her feet if I could have called a hawk out the trees to land on my fist.

We met another couple from Nova Scotia taking an all day, hands-on course as part of their honeymoon. Now that’s going to be an unforgettable love story… “Remember that time honey when we fed baby barn owls together?”

Chemainus Inn • Best Western Plus

During your stay at our award-winning hotel, experience warm hospitality, complimentary breakfast, spacious suites, indoor mineral pool & hot tub. Centrally located to all the wonderful attractions the Cowichan Valley has to offer.. Traveling Islanders have been here! Ask us. 

As you can image, we enjoyed MANY things about our visit to The Raptors, but here are four quick things that I won’t forget anytime soon:

I’ll preface these 4 things by first recognizing our wonderful Raptors guide Tina. She amplaphied and enhanced the whole experience. Friendly, funny, informative, kind, and the absolute BEST with our kids. She was truly a Raptors rockstar guide.

1. Laughing Birds (Kookaburra)

These were my kids’ favourite. You could get these birds to laugh by making a noise with your mouth. Have a listen for yourself. Koen my youngest boy told the bird a joke. “What is a tree’s favourite drink?”

2. Watching all three of my kids have a hawk land on their hand

I will never forget my kids’ reactions to having a close encounter with a hawk at The Raptors. My youngest one Koen was so happy he just turned around gave Gretta the most precious hug of pure joy. I didn’t know whether my daughter Kaia was actually going to give it a try. But once again our amazing guide Tina coached her ever-so gently, and now Kaia will have this life long memory.

3. Flying Demo

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Just seeing the flying demo presentation would have made the whole visit worth it. For so long we have all seen these wild birds from afar, but in this up close and personal flying demo it became magical.

Tina told us all about the Bald Eagle, Snowy Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Red Tailed Hawk and Turkey Vulture while having them fly from place to place right in front of us.

My favourite was the Peregrine Falcon. Now that is one extremely speedy bird. They can fly up to 60 mph and they have been clocked diving after prey as fast 200 mph!  The demo was captivating, as this Peregrine Falcon flew right in front of us like a dart. The Falcon swooped way up in the air and then dove down at a swinging bait on the end of rope that Tina was using. Incredible.

We would have had some pictures of the Peregrine Falcon, but he was just too fast!

Okay, one last very cool experience.

Have you ever seen a bald eagle flying overhead? Pretty impressive, right?

They look pretty small don’t they? WE HAD NO IDEA! I stood feet away from a bald eagle and the bird was massive! So majestic. Guess how much they weigh? By the size of the bird, I guessed 50lbs. Nope, way off. The bald Eagle Manuel was only 7 lbs. I guess it helps that his bones are hollow.

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I’m really not like Gretta in the factoid department, but here’s one more just for kicks. Did you know that if our eyes were the same size in proportion to our heads as that of a hawk’s eyes, they would be the size of oranges? Crazy.

Visitors from far and wide descend on beautiful Vancouver Island and the Cowichan Valley all year long. Just like all our other trips, we once again met someone from another country vacationing on Vancouver Island.

Can you guess which country? Einen Punkt für Deutschland.


Phone: 250-746-0372
Google Map Directions (The Raptors is located in the Cowichan Region near Duncan, BC)
Hours & Admission Prices

While our experience with The Raptors was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always. Photography courtesy of Levi Allen from Leftcoast Media House


  • Wow, what an experience! We saw our first Kookaburra in Australia earlier this year so now we have seen ll of these birds too. - Reply

    • What a fun bird to interact with. The kids couldn't get enough of them. Maybe someday we will be able to visit some Australian Kookaburra birds! - Reply

  • That must have been amazing - I LOVE bald eagles! Closest I have been is when I was eating at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino and one flew past right by the window - they really are massive. I also love kookaburras and see them all the time around Sydney - such weirdly large heads and I love their cheeky laugh. - Reply

    • So glad you've been able to see them too. It doesn't seem to matter whether you're up close or from a distance, bald eagles are majestic. - Reply

  • This looks incredible! I can't believe I've never heard of this place in all my years of traveling to the island. - Reply

    • We drove by it for 4 years before stopping by! It has a very unassuming front and you'd never know how spectacular it is inside unless you enter. Maybe you could check it out on your next visit. It's definitely worth it. - Reply

  • That looks like so much fun! We were at the High Desert Museum in Bend OR yesterday and they had a raptor/birds of prey talk that we just missed and I was bummed because it is the kind of thing we like to do. I'll have to check out the schedule for our local Audubon society when we get home because they always have a similar program in the fall. - Reply

    • If you can find a similar program near where you live you should definitely check it out. These birds are so majestic and graceful you won't want to miss it. - Reply

  • How brave are your kids! Maybe it's just me because I have a mild fear of birds but I could never have one of those massive hawks land on me. I'd probably freak out and it would bite me. It really looks like a great place to visit for the whole family and the kids looked like they really enjoyed it. - Reply

    • Jen, this kids did love it! They were in awe the whole time. If you're too timid to have one land on you, just start with a flying demonstration. The birds don't land on you, yet you're still able to see them up close. - Reply

  • Looks awesome! I went to a birds of prey show at Rock City in Chattanooga a few weeks ago and I got slapped in the face by a bald eagle's wings. He was going wild! Lol - Reply

    • Oh my! Now that's one for the books. I'm sure if your run in with the bald eagle was captured on film your face would have been priceless. - Reply

  • What an amazing experience, thank you for sharing. This looks like a great activity to do with the family especially as it bring the beauty of wild animals in for a close and safe view. What ages do you think would be appropriate for this activity? - Reply

    • This really is a great activity to do with a family, Kathy. We chose to wait until all our children were of school age, but if you have a younger child who is attentive and excited about wild animals and can be gentle, then you may want to consider it for them. I was so glad we waited though, as I think the experience became so much more memorable and meaningful for each one of my kids. Our youngest was five when we went for the first time and he absolutely loved it! You'll have to let me know when you decide to go. I'm sure yours will enjoy it. -g - Reply