Well, actually, it IS a bird... a turkey vulture chick to be exact. On a trip out to the Center for the Birds of Prey in Awendaw, SC this past Saturday, I found out that September is Vulture Awareness Month, and these intriguing avians are being spotlighted for their unique contributions to our world. For example, did you know that a vulture’s digestive system is so acidic it can digest and kill bacteria as dangerous as anthrax? Vultures may seem like dirty, creepy birds, but they actually keep the environment much healthier by cleaning up rotting road-side fare that might otherwise spread disease, and, let’s be honest, put a damper on nature’s aesthetics. Another fun fact: vultures nest on the ground. So if you happen to find one of the adorable fuzz-balls pictured above, please leave it where you found it—it hasn’t fallen out of a tree! Many a baby vulture has been brought to the Center because a well-intentioned person stole it right out of its own bed.
There’s nothing like seeing a kid who, two seconds before, was recoiling in disgust work up the gumption to reach out a tentative hand and touch the snake reclining on your arm. Usually their reaction is either one of relief (whew—I made it out safely, now I can check that off my list of dangers to face), or one of surprise (wow—it isn’t slimy!).
The Avian Conservation Center and the Center for Birds of Prey, located in Awendaw, SC, is a place for wildlife and nature lovers. The facility is spread out over 150 acres of land near the Francis Marion forest and houses approximately 120 birds including hawks, kites, eagles, vultures, and owls.
The staff and volunteers at the Center rescue around 500 injured and threatened birds a year. The birds that are unable to be safely released back into the wild act as educational diplomats for conservation and are the stars of the show at the Center. The facility is open to the public for tours and flight demonstrations Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Children who love science and wildlife typically have an exceptional experience here.
Birds of Prey Location
The Center is located at 4872 Seewee Road, Awendaw, SC 29429.
Call (843) 971- 7474 for directions or with any questions.
Tour and Flight Demonstration Times
The Center for Birds of Prey is open year-round to the public Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays. The grounds are open from 10:00 a.m. - 5;00 p.m. these days. Guided tours of the facility begin at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Flight demonstrations are held directly after the guided tours at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Flight demonstrations may be delayed or cancelled due to inclement weather.
Adult tickets: $18.00 • Children (ages 6-18): $12.00 • Children (ages 5 and under): Free of charge
* The Center offers a $1 discount to Seniors and Active Duty Military, and $2 off adults who are members of AAA
Things You May Want To Bring
Guests are encouraged to bring comfortable walking shoes, water, and sunglasses. The Center is located a fair distance from most local hotels and accommodations, so guests should be prepared to bring snacks in the car or drive to a local eatery after they enjoy the grounds.
While You're in the Area
If you make the drive out to Awendaw and would like to be in the area for the day, Eco Tours from Bulls Island run early morning and at lunch time with Coastal Expeditions.
A falcon swoops out of the sky and dashes its prey to the ground. It hovers over its prize, furtively peering around. All of a sudden, another body zips past and up into the sky, banking sharply 180 degrees and soaring away into some nearby trees.
If you've ever seen the movie Weekend at Bernies, a film about two guys who get invited to their boss's beautiful beach house for the weekend, you've seen Bald Head Island. Portions of the movie were filmed there. Aside from the strange plot twist the guys encounter along the way, the island is quite lovely. You could easily see why the boys wouldn't want to leave. After visiting Bald Head Island in North Carolina for myself, I can commiserate with them. We didn't want to leave either.
I’ve never been what one would call a nature lover or anything related to being outdoorsy. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good hike or run, even a camping trip every once in a while, but I generally prefer a controlled environment within four walls.
A Charleston resident suggested a Traveling Ink concierge might be able to help me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was one of the best pieces of advice I could have received. My friends thought I was an organizational wizard even though I kept telling them it was Traveling Ink, not me.
~ Nicky H.
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