Birds of prey amaze audience
Fluffing his feathers and picking up his foot, Solo showed how comfortable he was with the hundreds of schoolchildren watching him in the small gym at C.R. Hanna Elementary School, Orion.
The peregrine falcon's behavior showed he could relax, said World Bird Sanctuary volunteer Darcy Evelhoch. He was confident he would not have to fight off an attack.
Evelhoch and another volunteer, Jenna Kopp, brought five birds of prey to Henry County for two progams. The first was on Wednesday night, March 4, at the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District's 80th annual meeting in the Geneseo Moose Lodge.
The second was the next morning at C.R. Hanna, where they were accompanied by three representatives of the conservation district. They were Sharon Matson, administrative coordinator; Alley Hulslander, resource conservationist; and Neal Nelson, secretary/treasurer of the board.
Besides Solo, the feathered guests were Minerva, an American barn owl who flew back and forth between Evelhoch and Kopp; Data, an Eastern screech owl; Dakota, a Swainson's hawk; and Sanibel, a bald eagle named for Sanibel Island, Fla.
"These birds are professionals," Evelhoch said. "They've been birds their entire lives. They've been giving educational programs their entire lives."
World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis was established in 1977, when no programs existed for rehabilitating raptors, said Jerry Snodgrass, the conservation district's board chairman.
Solo was chatty during the conservation district's banquet, but only after Kopp moved him a little farther away from the moose head on the wall. Evelhoch said he was chatty because his mother died before she could teach him be quiet. Noisy baby birds get eaten.
Sanibel also was comfortable with the conservation district audience. She took the time to preen herself, taking her eyes off those watching her.
Before the presentation at C.R. Hanna, Evelhoch cautioned the children to be quiet and calm so the birds would be quiet and calm.
Afterwards, she told the boys and girls she had never had so many children be so good for so long.