News from the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation – Jan. 19, 2018

By Leslie Perkins

As the new year begins, the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation extends our thanks and gratitude to you for visiting the park and participating in the variety of events and activities.

Thousands of people enjoy Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) and all it has to offer — a treasured resource as one of the largest urban parks in the United States. We look forward to continuing our important mission, in partnership with the city of San Diego, to preserve the natural environment of MTRP and to provide educational and recreational opportunities for generations to come.

Huxley the hawk

Visitors to Mission Trails Park can meet Huxley the hawk on the first Sunday of each month. (Courtesy MTRPF)

There is a very special opportunity at Mission Trails Regional Park for the public to see and experience a splendid hawk in an educational setting. Bob Gordon, a federally licensed falconer, presents a Harris’s hawk named Huxley, inside the Visitor Center on the first Sunday morning of the month. Many visitors of all ages have enjoyed meeting Huxley and listening to Bob’s informative “Birds of Prey” talks, since they started in October 2017.

Harris’s hawk is a social raptor living in the southwest region and even found down into Central and South America. They usually travel and hunt in a group, feeding on small mammals, rodents, or even other birds. Gordon emphasizes the danger that all raptors face from potentially ingesting pest control poison that gets into the food chain. These beautiful hawks can live up to 15 years in their natural habitat, but up to 36 years if living in captivity.

Huxley was hatched in 2011 and raised as an abatement bird, used to keep away nuisance birds from public spaces and businesses. Huxley’s career began in the vineyards in Washington State, and eventually came to San Diego to work at Sea World. He excelled in his role but was just a bit too aggressive, so eventually Sea World asked the abatement company not to use Huxley anymore. That is when Gordon obtained him, explaining it was after the hawk got “fired.”

While Huxley cannot be released into the wild because he has been raised in captivity, it gives the public a wonderful chance to be up close and learn more about hawks. You can find these presentations inside the MTRP Visitor Center on the first Sunday of each month, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Extraordinary volunteers

We are so lucky to have many dedicated volunteers that are invaluable to the operations at Mission Trails Regional Park! There are over 150 active volunteers that selflessly give of their time and talents to make the park such a special place to experience. There are numerous volunteer opportunities and a person can help in a variety of ways:

Visitor Center: Staff the information area welcoming visitors to the park, staff the gift shop, and introduce the video presentations in the theatre.

Trail Guides: Complete the annual training and lead interpretive walks in the park.

Volunteer Patrol: Interact with park users and educate the public about park rules.

Trail Crew: Assist rangers with trail maintenance and construction, erosion control, and sign installation.

Habitat Improvement Team: Assist rangers with exotic plant eradication, habitat protection and revegetation projects.

Beautification Crew: Assist rangers with projects that beautify the park such as picking up litter, trimming back brush, painting, weeding, and applying mulch at various locations in the park.

Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills, share talents and knowledge, gain experience, make new friends and help make the park a better place! Check out for an application.

Upcoming free concerts

The public is invited to enjoy free afternoon concerts on certain Sundays at Mission Trails Regional Park. Enjoy sounds from the Native American Flute Circle in the outdoor amphitheater at 1 p.m. every second Sunday of the month. On Sunday, Jan. 21 at 3 p.m., check out Peter Pupping, Mark Hunter, Kevin Koch playing jazz guitar; and on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m., the Duo Decorus will be performing on violin and cello, both held in the indoor theater. More information can be found at

Be sure to keep track of the time as the park gates close and lock at 5 p.m. daily even as it gets darker later. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily.

— Leslie Perkins is executive director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation. Reach her at

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