Robyn Radcliffe

Robyn Radcliffe

Watch the feathers fly

The Raptors at Church and State Wines display eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures as they perform impressive flying demonstrations; slipping so close to the audience, that they’re warned not to stand.



Duck will draw visitors and protect the vineyard at Church and State Wines in Central Saanich.

Duck is a Harris Hawk, one of the birds of prey part of the latest attraction on the Peninsula.

The Raptors at Church and State Wines display eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures as they perform impressive flying demonstrations; slipping so close to the audience, that they’re warned not to stand.

“We wanted to give people a better understanding of our natural surroundings and how the natural elements work together in harmony,” said Kim Pullen, proprietor of Church and State Wines. “The Raptors at Church and State is a unique experience as people are rarely able to get this close to these birds and learn about them firsthand. It’s a reminder of the importance of conserving our natural environment and working in harmony with those elements.”

Up to 18 raptors will make their appearance daily in the partnership between Church and State and Pacific Northwest Raptors.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to showcase some really incredible birds of prey,” said Robyn Radcliffe, of Raptors. “This site is just such a great, beautiful place for the birds to fly, the wind hits the hill … it gives the birds an an amazing opportunity to showcase their abilities.”

The birds fly free of constraints, demonstrating their natural behaviour, flight skills and hunting ability. Experienced biologists interpret the birds’ behaviour and do running commentary on the birds and their ecology.

“While the demonstrations highlight the relationship between agriculture, or viticulture, and raptors, they really focus on the necessity for conservation and preservation of our natural settings,” Radcliffe said. “People often come away from the demonstrations with a strong desire to protect these magnificent birds.

“As well we’re hoping to assist with a little bird control over the vineyard,” she added. “Especially when the grapes are ripening, our birds can help keep away all the robins and starlings and everything that could eat the grapes. Our birds can do a great job of chasing them away.”

“They’re going to start off the season by presenting three demonstrations a day,” Pullen said. As the days get longer they’ll bump up to five demonstrations a day at the Benvenuto Road property that lies on the path to the largest tourist destination on the Peninsula — Butchart Gardens, and is neighbour to Butterfly Gardens.

“The goal is to build it into a strong tourism draw to the Peninsula,” Pullen said. “It gives people more reason for coming out here …we’re so close to Victoria it’s well worth the day trip.”

Shows continue through October