Owls make theater appearance for ‘Harry Potter’ opening day
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Jul. 21, 2011
“This is great,” said Vernon resident Christian Frezza, a firefighter for the town of Manchester, about the four owls at Rave Cinemas in Manchester on July 15. “The birds are incredible.”
Horizon Wings, based in Ashford, brought four owls to the movie theater in connection with the release of the film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the final chapter in the popular series.
Volunteers of the non-profit organization talked with movie-goers about the owls and the need to protect their natural habitat.
“I learned this one is endangered,” said Peyton, 6, of Coventry, about the barn owl. There are only a handful of known barn owl nesting spots in Connecticut. “And they’re not pets,” Peyton added.
Silo, a 15-year-old female barn owl, has been with Horizon Wings for one year. Silo was raised as a “program bird” for an educational organization in South Dakota. “She thinks she’s a person, not an owl,” said Mary-Beth Kaeser, founder of Horizon Wings.
“It’s best to have the young birds raised by the owls,” explained volunteer Jeanne Wadsworth, who has been with Horizon Wings for two years. She was paired with Oscar, a great-horned owl, whose shoulder was broken in an accident with a truck. “He’s a very good foster dad,” said Wadsworth about the 6-year-old owl.
For many movie-goers, it was the first time to see an owl up-close. The smallest owl was Herkimer, an eastern screech owl shown by volunteer Patricia Cebrelli. “Herkimer struck a window and broke a wing,” explained Cebrelli. The break was so close to the joint that the owl can no longer fly.
The barred owl, Emrys, was also hit by a car about 10 years ago, and his wing was amputated. According to volunteer Heather McGahagin, such full-wing amputations are now rarely done, because it is very difficult for the owl to regulate its body temperature and maintain balance without the wing. McGahagin is studying captive wildlife care and education. “I really like working with birds of prey,” she said. “I like being able to teach people about these birds that they live around all the time.”
Horizon Wings is one of the few rehabilitation and education centers for raptors in Connecticut, and the non-profit organization has licenses from both state and federal agencies. “We have 12 program birds, plus birds in rehabilitation,” said Kaeser. “They are not pets,” she stressed. “They do not solicit affection from us. They are not domesticated.” The program birds are ones that have been rehabilitated, but are unable to be released back in the wild, usually due to permanent injuries.
If an injured raptor is found, one should contact the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to obtain information on the closest rehabilitation center. According to Kaeser, if a baby owl is found on the ground, it is best for the bird to be renested, unless it is certain that the parent owls are dead.
“The message we try to send out is we need to conserve the wildlife,” said Wadsworth. Horizon Wings travels to schools and other organizations to present educational programs. The non-profit organization is supported solely through donations.
“It’s neat to be able to see them [the owls],” said 10-year-old Marissa, of South Windsor. “Owls are my favorite birds.”
For more information, visit the Horizon Wings website at horizonwings.org, call 860-429-2181 or e-mail email@example.com. The organization is also on Facebook as “Horizon Wings.”