Mike Havstad

As the Forest Gump line goes: Momma says, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” And so goes the raptor presentations given by Kim Stroud of the Ojai Raptor Center, as no two visits are ever the same!

Mike Havstad

Last year Kim brought a turkey vulture, named Handsome, to the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. I had seen her program over the years and became jaded with many nice pictures of assorted birds of prey. Handsome was a large and magnificent juvenile bird that showed a great deal of curiosity about Kim, the audience, and his surroundings, much to the joy of the audience.

Kim’s adopted kids or extended family is made up of mostly owls, falcons and hawks. Her wards cannot be released because of their injuries, or because they have imprinted on humans. The birds act as wildlife goodwill ambassadors, as does Kim. I truly admire Kim for her dedication to her job at Patagonia and for all the time she has dedicated, more than ten years, to the care of raptors and other birds.

Mike Havstad

Other surprises may include a variety of owls, hawks and falcons and possibly a striking and less commonly displayed bird called a Black-shouldered Kite.

The event is held outdoors at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center on June 21 at 11:00 am. We have a limited number of chairs and recommend bringing a camp chair for all your family members. Sorry no pets allowed.

The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is located on Scenic Highway 33, a half-hour drive north of Ventura. The visitor center is operated under a special-use permit with the Los Padres Forest Association and the Los Padres National Forest.

Wheeler Gorge is located 10 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33.

Donations, used to pay for programs and advertising, are $3 for adults and $2 for participants ages 5 to 18; children younger than 4 are free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. No pets allowed.

Editor’s Note: Mike Havstad is the director of the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and is a Board member of Los Padres Forest Association. If you have an outdoor event you’d like publicized, an organization devoted to outdoor education you want featured or a story you’d like to share relating to the outdoors, email the Outdoor Guy at the Indy.


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