CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Bird is the word at the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville. This escape is nestled inside Latta Plantation, just 30 minutes from center city. This nature reserve provides a safe haven for six to eight hundred injured birds each year. Some of the birds are released back into the wild, others aren't so lucky.
"We have almost a hundred permanent resident birds. Birds like this one that have been injured and can't survive in the wild," explained Heather Merewood, the Director of Education.
The center houses over twenty species of eagles, owls, vultures, falcons and hawks. They also rehabilitate more than seven hundred birds each year. Merewood says spring brings an influx of chicks. As baby birds attempt to leave the nest, accidents happen. The raptor center steps in to nurse these birds back to help.
These beautiful raptors are scattered along the nature trail. Take a hike and you'll find that raptors come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes. One of the crowd favorites is Jake, an American Kestrel. Jake was named after ex- panther, Jake Delhomme."When the panthers are doing poorly, we haven't seen his adopt- a- bird drop off any so that's probably a good thing, " said Merewood.
CRC relies on donations and admission prices to support these birds of prey. Admission is eight dollars for adults and six dollars for kids. Seniors get in for just seven dollars. There are live bird presentations, trivia tours, and educational programs each weekend. All of these activities are included in the price of admission. There are also opportunities to adopt birds. For more details go to the Carolina Raptor Center web site.
Before you head home, stop at the Latta Park Nature Center. This building is just a stone's throw away from the Raptor Center. There you can see turtles, fish, snakes and other reptiles for free. And, it is located right next to one of Charlotte's best hiking trails making this pick good for your body, and great for your wallet.
Start: Charlotte, NC
1. Head southwest on S Tryon St toward W 4th St - 404 ft
2. Take the 1st right onto W 4th St - 0.3 mi
3. Turn right at S Graham St - 0.7 mi
4. Turn right onto the N Carolina 16 N/I-277 N/N Carolina 16 ramp to I-77/US-21 - 0.2 mi
5. Merge onto I-277 N - 0.6 mi
6. Take exit 5A to merge onto I-77 N/US-21 N toward Statesville Continue to follow I-77 N - 4.7 mi
7. Exit onto Sunset Rd - 0.9 mi 8. Turn right at Beatties Ford Rd - 4.9 mi 9. Turn left at Sample Rd Destination will be on the left - 1.6 mi
Arrive: Carolina Raptor Center 6000 Sample Road Huntersville, NC