Great Smoky Mountains National Park Will Offer Raptor Program Thursday

This Harris’s Hawk was featured at the 2012 Birds of Prey program at Oconaluftee. NPS photo.

A program on raptors that soar above Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be offered this Thursday at the Oconaluftee Multipurpose Room.

The program is being offered by the park and the Balsam Mountain Trust.

Michael Skinner, the Trust's executive director, will conduct an hour-long Birds of Prey program beginning at 1 p.m. This program will provide visitors with an up-close glimpse of some of the planet's most recognized and revered wild animals, such as the tiny eastern screech owl and northern bald eagle.

“We are delighted to welcome Balsam Mountain Trust to the park for this program,” said Lynda Doucette, supervisory park ranger. “This is an opportunity for park visitors to see and learn about these beautiful birds first hand.”

Balsam Mountain Trust is a local non-profit whose mission is the stewardship of the natural and cultural resources on Balsam Mountain Preserve and the Blue Ridge Mountain region, through effective land management practices, scientific research, and environmental education. The Trust has earned special distinction as a place where non-releasable birds of prey are taken in, cared for, and then utilized as educational ambassadors.

The Oconaluftee Multipurpose Room is adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on U.S. Highway 441, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For more information on the upcoming Birds of Prey program, please call the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center at (828) 497-1904. Information is also available from the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm.