by Denny Olson

Denny Olson

Well, it appears that the Birds of Prey Festival is getting to be a “thing”. It’s an odd colloquialism, because I always thought that things were, well, things. But, as I understand it, the modern meaning has an implied “significant” adjective before the word itself. (Don’t get me started on the erosion of literacy in favor of sound-bites.)

This year, our number of participants at the Festival jumped from 600 to 800(!) – an ascending trend that has been going on for few years now. I would like to think that it means that birds of prey are being more appreciated – and it surely does – but it is also a testament to the work of many planners and presenters, all of whom are unrecognized and under-appreciated.

Not by me! Here’s the list, and evidence for the great work by a large team. First of all, no one would even know about the Festival without the publicity team of Paula Smith and Jan Metzmaker. Posters went up everywhere. Newspaper ads created by Robyn at Insty-Prints jumped out at people as they perused the dailies and weeklies. KGEZ, KOFI and KAJ were happy to report on us.

The venue and staff of our partners in crime, Lone Pine State Park – Brian Schwartz, Derrick Rathe, four wonderful Americorps naturalists, and volunteers like mask-maker Sandi Vashro – managed the scene beautifully and designed some very fun activities for the kids.

The presenters – Denver Holt from the Owl Research Institute, Beth Watne from the Wild Wings Recovery Center and Audubon’s Kathy Ross conducting Hawkwatch training – added a huge amount of credibility and interest to the day.

Beth and her amazing volunteers brought fourteen (14!) different species or color morphs of WWRC’s education birds, mesmerizing participants. Teresa Wenum from Flathead National Forest brought “Sally Snag” and started many discussions on the habitat needs of raptors and other cavity nesters. Allison Batch and Mary Jo Gardner from Citizens for a Better Flathead dug in the dirt with kids and did activities about compost and recycling. Our own Audubon volunteers – Cory, Rod, Gael, Barbara Boorman – played with and educated families about raptors all through the event. And Audubon President Kay Mitchell was a great MC for the day.

All these are from my notoriously feeble memory, so I’m sure I forgot a few more, and apologize if I did. Nevertheless, thank you all!

As they say, a good (edu-taining) time was had by all, and I’m still grinning, thinking back on a wonderful day.