by Kathy Ross

American Kestrel from Wild Wings – Photo Credit: BD Lancaster

Flathead Audubon and Wild Wings Raptor Recovery Center hosted two informative presentations on birds of prey at the Wild Wings facility. Despite thick smoke, masks and cool temps, 25 participants joined Wild Wing’s volunteers and their feathered educational ambassadors for a close up look at the raptors key field markings and wild personalities. Ambassadors are birds who, because of permanent injuries can no longer survive on their own in the wild. Still they represent wildness. Serving as educational ambassadors, they help humans to better understand the needs of their wild relatives and how they might protect them from future injuries. Returning injured raptors back to the wild is the primary goal of the Wild Wings volunteers and facility. The second goal is education programs like this one sponsored by Audubon.

Especially helpful at this educational event, and for those interested in volunteering for one of our local hawk watches, was the in-depth discussion of Accipiters, represented by a beautiful resident Coopers Hawk. It was also an opportunity to see the three morphs, (light, intermediate and dark) of Red-tailed Hawks, side by side. Participants began to understand why it is such a challenge in the wild to identify Red-tails’ many variations of plumage. Also it was an incredible privilege to experience Wild Wings resident Bald Eagle, Victory. He is a three year old sub-adult Eagle transitioning from darker juvenile plumage, to adult white head and tail by five years old. For those attending it was easy to see why, in the first years, a young Bald Eagle is easily mistaken for an adult Golden Eagle. Audience participation was greatly appreciated with questions, comments, and the greatest respect for these beautiful wild birds. After the presentation of the raptors and discussion of field markings, folks were able to tour the facility, meet the resident owls and have a look at the informative displays in the new educational building.

To make arrangements for individual tours and group programs, contact Beth Watne at 250-1050.

Barbara Summer holds a Bald Eagle at Wild Wings – Photo Credit: BD Lancaster