Home Regions California

Total Raptor Experience: Up Close & Personal with Birds of Prey

Outdoor travel experiences are getting more and more popular these days. And if you’re fascinated by birds of prey, then California’s Total Raptor Experience is the ultimate adventure. You’ll get the unique opportunity to be up close with these magnificent creatures, whether you make it an unforgettable family activity or an individual avian encounter.

We recently visited Ramona, California and interviewed Terry Lockwood of Total Raptor Experience. Participants also gave highlights of their amazing adventures. You can watch the video here, or read the transcription below (lightly edited for clarity).

Terry Lockwood, Total Raptor Experience: The basic falconry experience is just learning a little bit about the bird, about the history of falconry, and then flying an interactive flight with the bird.

Four thousand years ago, somebody in the Far East saw a bird of prey catch food, and they thought… “Hey, I wonder if I can get that bird to help me catch food.” (1:01)

Total Raptor Experience
Total Raptor Experience, Ramona, California

Taylor, Total Raptor participant: I thought it was really fun to have a real life animal on my arm because I’ve never had a prior experience like that before. It was really a good experience to be able to be that in touch with nature.

Drew: I liked seeing it fly from your hand onto a tree and then back to someone else’s hand. It was really cool to see how they landed on you and their approach and how they flew through the air.

Scott Harry: The first time or two it comes at you and you have your arm out there with the food. It’s a very cool experience. You know, when you think raptor experience, you’re just visualizing a big bird landing on your arm. But this was obviously much more than that.

Terry Lockwood of Total Raptor Experience introducing Barn Owl, Moonshine

Terry: This is Moonshine, and Moonshine is a Barn Owl. They collect sound so that they can triangulate what they’re looking for. Is the sound to the right? Is it to the left? Is it up high? Is it down low? And that’s how they can find stuff. (1:58)

Jennifer Harry: My daughter Drew is in the fourth grade right now. And what they’re learning right now is all about owls and raptors. So when a friend told me about this experience, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring her up and be able to see the owls firsthand.

Terry: Now another thing that’s kind of interesting about the owls – 70% of what you see is feather. So when you look at a skull of a bird like this, look at how tiny compared to his face.

I’m not a rescue, but I do take animals as long as I can take care of them. So all the stuff that I have is just animals and stuff that just gives me a lot of joy. I have the pigs and tortoises and a turkey whose name is Bobby Boucher. He’s totally cute and he gobbles when you gobble. An alpaca, sheep, an emu and a variety of other little things. If you want to take that little tour, then I let you feed some of the animals and you can pet some of the animals. (2:32)

Feeding the turtles at Total Raptor Experience

Jennifer: And then we were able to feed strawberries to the tortoises and to the potbelly pig, which was a whole other adventure as well. So just a lot of different little experiences along the way that made it really fun.

Scott: Understanding conservation, preservation and that we all kind of coexist in this world together.

Terry: Does the bird mean more to you than he did a half an hour ago? If we explain to people some of the issues that they’re having, more people might take it more seriously. (4:04)

Taylor: As Terry said, it’s so important because being able to touch and have that animal right on your arm is a lot more touching and meaningful than just being able to see the animal. And it provides you with experience about why this would be vital for their protection. (4:16)

Total Raptor Experience
Total Raptor Experience

Jennifer: Terry is awesome. She’s quite the character. When you see her interact with the animals, you really understand how much she cares for and loves these animals. It comes across.

Scott: I think this is just one of those hidden gems that’s a great experience not only for adults but children, just in a good way for a family to get out and enjoy what San Diego has to offer.

Terry: You know, just walking around and seeing the animals and interacting with the animals. You know, put your phone away and just enjoy life a little bit. It feels good and it makes me laugh. And anything that can make you laugh is a keeper. (4:54)

You can find more information or book your private avian encounter at TotalRaptorExperience.com.