Kim Kamstra and wife Karen are falconers who currently have 28 "family members" under their collective wing.
And these predatory "family members" happen to have powerful wings, talons, and sharp beaks, some with the capacity of tearing flesh and shattering bones.
Since 2006, the Kamstras have operated Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey Inc. from their property in northeast Maple Ridge.
The private business, funded by fees charged for courses, is home to 28 birds of prey that staff members and volunteers work with daily.
A few of the raptors have unique stories.
Frankie, a male Harris Hawk, came to Raptors Ridge from another falconer.
He was hurt doing his job of bird abatement (getting rid of pest birds such as crows, seagulls, and pigeons).
"He suffered burns to most of his flight feathers, so he couldn't fly," Karen said.
A year and a half after his arrival, Frankie is back free, flying, hunting, and Karen said, "Wowing people from all over the world."
Tangles, a female red tailed hawk, was picked up time and time again, with, Karen said, "great thanks to the farmers who captured her instead of just shooting her."
Tangles had been re-released all over the Lower Mainland, only to wind up back at the rehab centre.
"She needed a place to call her own, so now her skills are being used to show the fortitude of nature," Karen said.
Zippy, a northern pygmy owl, came to Raptors Ridge via a rehab centre. Zippy was found in the Harrison area with a badly damaged wing. Veterinarians made several attempts to mend it, but it could not be repaired.
Zippy is now a 100 per cent indoor owl as he cannot protect himself in the great outdoors, Karen explained.
"He may not be able to fly, but man can the bird run and jump - hence the name Zippy," Karen noted.
With so many feathered friends, there are always plans in the works for expansion, Karen noted.
"Our hearts know no limits when it comes to these beautiful birds," she said. "When one is in need, we make the room for it."
An example: Karen and daughter Sara drove to Kelowna about three weeks ago to pick up three Merlin falcons.
"We, with a little luck and a bit of moving birds around, created new space for them," Karen said. "They are now settling into a new routine here."
Raptors Ridge's mission statement is to strengthen the connection between the forces of nature and human innovation to create sustainability, through conservation and education.
Karen describes raptors as "majestic" animals.
Her passion for wildlife stems from her childhood. Karen says she's experienced equal doses of fascination and frustration with raptors and birds in general.
"I could nurture them back to good health, I could watch them catch their dinner, but I could never get real close to them unless they were hurt or trapped in improper net settings," she said.
She considers each raptor to be a part of her family.
"To the wild birds out there, even more so, our educational programs will create sustainability for them," she added.
Students, guides, scouts, brownies, and youth groups are given "front row seats into the lives of raptors," Karen said, through field work, knowledge, and demonstrations where "their experience fosters focus and respect."
Part of the education process is sharing with people that raptors are wild and should be treated accordingly.
To own one, you need approval from the Ministry of Environment, Karen stressed.
"We are strictly governed by them. We have permits in place in order to acquire and hold birds of prey," she said.
It is against the law to have a bird of prey without a permit.
"Our birds are considered wildlife even if they were born in captivity," Karen said.
A raptorial bird will only eat raw meat, and not every meat is good for them.
"You can't go to the local pet food store and get their food," Karen said. "When we can, usually in the fall, we do hunt with our birds so they can get their own food. It's very good exercise for the birds and keeps their natural talents sharp - after all, the sharp end of a raptor is where their talents lay."
Taking care of raptors is not an easy task. They have to be worked with every day, regardless of the weather.
"Raptors can be lazy by nature and they have to be exercised to keep them fit," Karen said.