Snake River Raptor Fest to Showcase Live Raptors, Celebrate Conservation Area's 25th Anniversary 

click to enlarge mnsrbopnca_sign_stevealsup.jpg

Steve Alsup

The Bureau of Land Management estimates roughly 800 pairs of raptors—including eagles, hawks, owls and falcons—build their nests in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA) south of Boise each year. That estimate may seem generous at first, but drive through the farmland surrounding the more than 750-square-mile parcel and it's likely you'll see at least one bird hunched on a fence post or soaring overhead every few minutes. Each encounter is stunning, and on Saturday, June 2, locals are invited to join NCA staff to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sanctuary and the birds it protects at the inaugural Snake River Raptor Fest.

This Prairie Falcon is one of many raptors protected by the NCA. - NEIL PAPROCKI
  • Neil Paprocki
  • This Prairie Falcon is one of many raptors protected by the NCA.
Leah Dunn, vice president of the Birds of Prey NCA Partnership, a local nonprofit formed to support the reserve, said she has her fingers crossed for a crowd between 300 and 600 people. Still, she added, "This is our first annual Raptor Fest, so we don't have any idea [what to expect]."

The free event, hosted at Indian Creek Winery in Kuna, will begin with a sold-out field trip (40 slots were claimed in just five days) to Dedication Point with stops at raptor nesting sights. It continues at Indian Creek with 40 vendor and nonprofit booths, food truck fare, live music from Andrew Sheppard and Hillfolk Noir, beer and wine, kid's activities and all-ages raptor talks.

"We have a passport program for kids to go through, we have face painting, we have an art exhibit that Kuna School District students participated in, and so there are a lot of family friendly things going on as well as adult things," said Dunn.

The hourly raptor talks are sure to be a highlight of the event, spanning topics from ecosystem science to raptor monitoring, and featuring a few winged guests.
click to enlarge Those lucky enough to attend the field trip will enjoy this view of the Snake River Canyon from Dedication Point. - NEIL PAPROCKI
  • Neil Paprocki
  • Those lucky enough to attend the field trip will enjoy this view of the Snake River Canyon from Dedication Point.
"Kids will especially like them, because they'll all have live raptor presentations, including Slim, who was [Idaho raptor expert and advocate] Morley Nelson's golden eagle," Dunn said.

The event will run from noon to 5 p.m., and Dunn said she hopes it will prove equal parts educational and fun for attendees, as well as set up a model for festivals to come.

"We'd like to get people excited about the NCA and encourage them to go out there and look at it, and understand that it's an important area that was really dedicated because of local community support in the first place," she said.
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