The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental education and research. VINS rehabilitates and displays hawks, eagles, owls and other birds of prey to illustrate the effect of human life on nature and its cycles, and to encourage visitors to preserve and enrich the world around them. The Raptor Exhibit is the first phase of the future VINS Nature Center proposed for the site.
The 47-acre site, adjacent to Quechee Gorge and State Park, was selected to reveal the effects of both human and natural forces at work upon the landscape. The VINS experience is a circle; each visitor emerges from the automobile in an environment much changed by man, travels through exhibits and considers mankind’s interplay with the land and its creatures, and finally experiences the forest and river in its natural form. It is VINS’ hope that each person departs with increased understanding of their role in protecting the natural world.
Seventeen pole-framed wildlife enclosures are placed along the curved edge of a clearing, known as the Hawk Fly, where raptors are free to soar. Only birds unable to recover sufficiently to hunt and survive in the wild are kept on display.
Each raptor enclosure is designed to provide maximum safety and comfort for the bird inhabitants. Guests view the birds from the darkness of a covered walkway, sheathed with board slats and mesh panels, so the disruptive effect of their presence is minimized. Metal panel and open mesh roofs slope up away from the visitor, revealing views of raptors perched on branches or nesting boxes in the forest beyond. Exhibit panels explain how each bird was injured and highlight the rehabilitation process leading to recovery.