Owl Prowl draws curious families

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Ashford - posted Mon., Oct. 28, 2013
Colleen Backman is handling Silo, a barn owl who is a Horizon Wings education ambassador.  Photos by Kitty LeShay.
Colleen Backman is handling Silo, a barn owl who is a Horizon Wings education ambassador. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation and Education knows how to throw a family party. More than 200 curious nature-lovers got their chance to stare down five different species of owls at the center’s Oct. 19 Owl Prowl. The featured performers were co-operative, engaging and some just plain cute.

“We do this at this time of year because it is getting to be the time when owls are calling for their mate and owls are popular subjects around Halloween,” said Mary Beth Kaeser. She and her husband, Alan Nordell, house the raptor sanctuary on their property, caring for and rehabilitating the birds. A total of 12 volunteers help them in this work, caring for  vultures, hawks, falcons, a juvenile bald eagle and the owls. The handlers, many of whom are licensed rehabilitators, helped participants at the Owl Prowl understand the secret lfe of owls.

Patricia Cebrelli handled a northern saw whet, who was relaxed and engaging. “I feel it is an honor to show people the beauty of these animals,” she said. “Taking care of a raptor and being able to release it is an incredible feeling which never gets old.”

In addition to being able to ask anything about owls, guests were provided an opportunity to enjoy the displays under the educational tents and to participate in learning activities connected to owls. Children enjoyed making arts and crafts and snacking on homemade cookies and drinking hot cider.

Jenna Kennedy and her dad, Shawn, were enjoying the evening, as were many other families. “I learned a lot of owl facts. I liked picking at the pellets and finding little bones,” Jenna said.  Her father said that the event was “a wonderful evening out with my daughter.”

Kaeser and Nordell have 19 raptors who serve as educational ambassadors, as they cannot be released due to their injuries. These birds are taken all over the region for educational programs in schools, libraries and museums. This is the third year that Horizoon Wings has hosted the annual educational event at the raptor sanctuary.

“Taking care of these birds of prey has become a life vocation,” said Kaeser. “This is my passion. I love being able to care for these animals and educate children to respect and care for the environment so future generations of all species can continue to inhabit the planet.”

For information about when and where Horizon Wings will be going in the future, visit www.horizonwings.org.

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