Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is a centre for the conservation of wildlife and their habitats, educating the public and the treatment and rehabilitation of injured raptors.
Due to the nature of their injuries some of the birds cannot be released back into the wild and they are kept at the centre. Hence it is a great place to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s native birds of prey like the majestic Bald Eagle, the national bird of United States.
The centre is situated in the town of Eatonville near the city of Maitland on the shores of Lake Sybelia, north of Orlando. It is only a few minutes drive off of I-4 and about 40 minutes from our villa. If you do not want to drive on I-4 then it takes about one hour travelling north on John Young Parkway.
Click the button to display a map showing the location of our villa on Eagle Pointe and the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. Other nearby attractions include the Harry P. Leu Gardens. Close the map by clicking on the X in the top right.
Open times: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays and holidays)
Admission: $8.00 for adults (3+), free for children under 3
Address: 1101 Audubon Way, Maitland, FL 32751
Tel: (407) 644 0190
You can expect to spend a couple of hours at the centre and it is a great place to visit for the whole family.
It is not a very big site so you do not have to walk far. A lot of the grounds are shaded by trees but sunscreen is still worth having with you as most of the exhibits are outside.
As well as the aviaries, there is also the large Disney’s Magic of Flight barn where birds are often housed prior to release.
The Raptor Trauma Clinic is where birds are brought to when they first arrive to receive medical attention.
Since it opened over 8,300 birds of prey have been released back into the wild and today over 800 sick or injured raptors are treated each year.
The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey often works with other rescue organisations like the SeaWorld Rescue Team.
Note that there are no food and drink facilities on site but there are plenty of restaurants in nearby Maitland. If you want to make a day of it, you could also head over to the Harry P Leu Gardens, a beautiful botanical gardens and house, about 5 miles away which is on the way home.
The Birds at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
We often see Bald Eagles and Osprey hunting for fish over our lake but they are never close enough (or stay still long enough!) to get a really good long look at them. Likewise we often see the two species of Vulture, the Black Vulture and the Turkey Vulture and the Red-shouldered Hawk and even the migratory Swallow-tailed Kite. To date we have seen six species of raptor around our lake.
The last two times we visited the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, we were met near the entrance by one of the volunteers with “Trouble” on their arm, one of the resident Audubon Ambassadors.
Trouble is a 35 year old Bald Eagle who was born with a seriously deformed beak with the two halves at an angle, like a pair of scissors. It was rescued as a young chick as the defect to its beak would not have allowed it to feed itself. Despite several surgeries, Trouble’s beak will never grow straight so he is now a permanent member of the team.
It was amazing to be able get so close to such a magnificent bird. There are two other Bald Eagles who now regard the centre as their home. When “Francis” arrived he was suffering from a respiratory infection and “Paige” had a fractured collar bone. Though both were successfully treated neither is strong enough to survive in the wild.
We even saw a wild Bald Eagle sat in a tall pine tree as we walked down to the lake.
As well as the Bald Eagles, there are just about every species of raptor found in Florida. Everything from Vultures, Osprey, Kestrels, Falcons, several species of Owls and Hawks, Kites to Crested Caracara.
Many of the birds have suffered injuries to their wings, often through being hit by cars, electrocution from overhead power lines or shot at.
The volunteers are so very helpful and knowledgeable and will often ask you if there is a particular bird you would like to see up close and then they go and fetch it for you to see. The first time we got to see one of the Great Horned Owls. It was amazing to see it turn its head through 180 degrees!
The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl in Florida whilst the smallest is the Eastern Screech Owl and there are several of them at the centre as well.
Due to pesticide poisoning, Bald Eagles were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1967 but following the ban on DDT in 1972, their numbers had started to recover and they were removed from the endangered list in 2007. In the following year they were removed from the State list of threatened species.
Today there are around 1,500 nesting pairs in Florida and since the centre opened in 1979, the Audubon rescue team have released over 600 Bald Eagles back into the wild.
As well as day tickets you can also purchase an annual pass for an individual or a family of up to five people which gives you access for a whole year:
- single annual pass is $30.00
- family annual pass is $50.00
It is a good idea to keep an eye out on Groupon as they often have deals.
Adopt A Raptor
You can also just make a donation to help the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey or you can adopt one of their birds for a year.
There are various levels of the Adopt-A-Raptor programme and as well as helping the centre, you get gifts in return including a newsletter, free admission tickets and more depending on the level you choose.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, indoor areas and interactive exhibits are closed to the public and operating hours are reduced. Remember to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.
To help maintain social distancing and reduce capacity, all ticket sales are for designated time slots on specified dates. All the water fountains have been turned off so remember to bring water with you.
Normally you can borrow a colour guidebook at the entrance to help you identify the residents as you go around the centre but because of sanitation restrictions, instead you can download a copy of the guidebook from their website.
As the house in the grounds is closed, there is no gift shop at the moment.