Raptor Flight Show

Get ready for an extraordinary experience….

Raptor Flight Show

A world-class Raptor Free-Flight Show is under construction, now!

The new site is being built directly behind the existing Nature Center with a beautiful view of the Big Springs Meadow and surrounding forest. It was designed by WDM Architects of Wichita, KS, the designers of the Phoenix Zoo’s new amphitheater and animal enclosures. They are world renowned for building animal enclosures that provide animals with challenges, choices, and control over their environment. It is expected to be a tremendous asset for the entire White Mountain Community for bird shows, nature presentations and many other community events.

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New Site Plan

Land On Sky Wildlife Experiences

In September of 2021 the Nature Center formed a partnership with Land On Sky Wildlife Experiences to build and operate a world-class ambassador Raptor show at the Nature Center.

In addition to funding provided by Land On Sky, the Arizona Office of Tourism awarded a grant of $250,000 to assist in the construction of the new pavilion that will include housing for up to nine raptors, a Netted Flight Training Area, and a Viewing Patio where guests can watch daily training exhibitions free of charge.

Completion is expected in the summer of 2023. Until then the animals are housed in the old Rehab Building behind the facility and can be experienced every day during their 3 PM training, which is open to the public.

New Amphitheater

Nature Center Presentations

Also under construction is a 250 seat amphitheater facing the beautiful meadow to the north of the Nature Center. When it is complete, formal animal ambassador shows will be held there.  The amphitheater will also house the numerous presentations hosted by the Nature Center about the nature of the White Mountains.  The presentations give in-depth information by experts about the surrounding trees, trails, plants and animals that attract thousands of visitors to the White Mountains annually.

There will be a total of 58 benches that comprise the amphitheater seating.  Each of them has a high-quality brass plaque embedded in the top rail for memorials.  Donations are being accepted now and range from $2,000 for a 4 ft. bench to $3,000 for an 8 ft. bench.

Staging, lighting, music, and scripting are being assisted by Natural Encounters, the company that produces bird shows at the Indianapolis Zoo, State Fair of Texas, and the largest theme park in the world located in Florida.

The animal ambassadors already on-site and being trained include Garfunkel (Funky) who is a Eurasian Eagle Owl with a 6 foot 4 inch wingspan.

Get to Know Our Animal Ambassadors

They are awe inspiring, and they want to meet you!

About Our Animal Ambassadors

Our Ambassadors are selected and trained specifically for educational experiences with the public.  They are trained to be calm, responsive to our cues, and non-aggressive.  This is different than falconry, which is a hunting technique using raptors as trained hunting companions.  Our method of training is called several things – Choice-Based, Positive Reinforcement, and Clicker Training.  Although we do not use a clicker, we are careful to always reward behavior that is a result of our cues being responded to appropriately.  The same training techniques can be used on almost any species of dog, chicken, horse, bird, or human!

Garfunkel (Funky) the Owl

Garfunkel the Eurasian Eagle Owl is our most famous Ambassador. 

Funky, as he is best known, is just over 3 years old, and has been with us since he was a baby.  He was joined in May by Simon, another Eurasian Eagle Owl.  Eurasians are one of the two largest owls in the world, with wingspans over 6 feet and measuring two to three times the body height of the Great Horned Owl found in Arizona.

Funky has his own social media pages, follow him today!

Azul the Crow

Azul is an American Crow. 

She came to us as a baby – with bright blue eyes, hence the name ‘Azul’ meaning blue in Spanish.  Although she is not a raptor, she has lived next door to one for her entire life and can imitate their calls!  She is trained to recycle plastic and aluminum trash into a bin.  Like others in the Corvid family, she is extremely intelligent and curious.  We are training her to accept donations from the audience and place them in a donation jar.


RTH Speedwagon, or Speedy, is a Red Tailed Hawk.

Red Tailed Hawk is the most common species of hawk found in our state.  He was at a rehab facility back east that did not have enough room for him, so when he arrived we found that he could not fly because of lack of space to flex those incredible wings.  Now, he flies like a rocket, earning his ‘Speedy’ name.  His markings are beautiful and a perfect example of the Red Tails you will see flying over this area and the entire State.


Simon is a baby Eurasian Eagle Owl. 

Simon is a baby Eurasian Eagle Owl.  He will soon join Garfunkel to demonstrate their ability to fly silently.  Simon & Garfunkel – the Sounds of Silence!  Since Simon is only a few months old, his training will be at the foundational level, learning to weigh himself, go in and out of his crate on cue, and fly to a perch when he sees the cue.  For a while he will have some cute fuzzy down feathers on his head and legs, but will be as big as Garfunkel.  Eurasian Eagle Owls are one of the largest species of owls on the planet and grow to full size in just 16 weeks.


Astro is an Aplomado Falcon.  Aplomado Falcons are among the most amazing flyers in the bird kingdom.  They use their amazing agility and speed to hunt other birds in mid-flight!  Aplomados used to be abundant in Arizona, but farming and ranching in the late 1800’s reduced the number of Yucca cactus in the southeastern part of the state which caused their population to expatriate to northern Mexico.

We brought Astro here to introduce the species to Arizona residents in advance of their planned re-introduction by the Perigrene Fund.

Currently Astro is learning how to fly to perches on cue.  Mastering that skill is required for him to come out for our daily training exhibitions.  Sign up for the newsletter to be notified when he is out!!