Festival celebrating birds of prey flies into Flushing Meadows

DA4_0492_10-05-14 Raptor Fest
Photos courtesy of the Parks Department

Flushing Meadows Corona Park will be the host of the 18th annual Raptor Fest, a festival that allows people to get up close and personal with New York City’s birds of prey.

The festival will be held on Oct. 3 and will introduce Queens residents to the birds native to the city including red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, kestrels and bald eagles, according to Richard Simon, deputy director of the Urban Park Rangers.

Previously held in Central Park and Prospect Park, Simon said Flushing Meadows Corona Park administrators reached out to the Parks Department to request the move to Queens. The festival is named raptor for the word meaning birds of prey, or birds that hunt and feed on other animals.

Children and adults can expect to see three flight demonstrations by a professional falconer and educational tables that will teach visitors about the birds around them.

Raptor Fest will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 near the Unisphere, where resident red-tailed hawks have made a home for themselves.

Simon said the goal of the festival is to raise awareness about the importance of birds of prey in New York City. He is also encouraging visitors to bring their cameras for the photo opportunities the festival will allow.

“They really are apex predators. They eat a lot of rodents and squirrels and some of them even eat large insects so they help control some of the pests that are in the city,” Simon said. “They’re really a great big bird so kids will have an easy time recognizing them and all of a sudden noticing that there’s a difference between pigeons and starlings and there are other birds we have in New York City.”


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