52 Complex - Release Training

52 Complex is dedicated to the release training of medium sized owls. It consists of five parallel 76' x 8' x 12' units, each of which can be divided in two by gates found midway along their lengths. A walkway runs perpendicular to the units below the gates, thus forming short corridors halfway along each unit where birds can fly over a viewer's head. The long length and narrow width of the 52 Complex units compels owls to continue flying, thereby gaining stamina.

In 2001, we decided to further this stamina building experience by creating "the Serpentine", a flight path where owls could fly even longer distances. In order to do this, we built two curving corridors extending from either end of the third unit. One of these met unit 1, while the other wrapped around to meet unit 5. Thus incorporating units 1, 3 and 5, we had succeeded in creating a 288' linear flight path and by closing any of the corridors we could separately house and train two or more species in significantly longer units.

Hawk Owls and Long-eared Owls are routinely trained in the Serpentine and to our delight utilize its full length on a regular basis. At release, they are beautifully toned marathon fliers.


This Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)
has used its hearing to pinpoint a
brown mouse foraging beneath
leaf matter.

The corridor-like units of 52 Complex provide motivation for owls to
continue flying, thereby gaining stamina. The arc into another
unit equally as long as this is barely visible at the far end.


Top view of complex
(click on the image above for a larger view)
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