Keeping a tradition of 17 years, Birchwood Elementary School, Meigs County, Tennessee, welcomed the community and wildlife enthusiasts to the annual Cherokee Heritage and Sandhill Crane Viewing festival this past Saturday (Nov 15).
This year’s event added greater focus on interactive activities for kids. Along with art projects and face painting, activities included dissecting regurgitated owl pellets! Not so messy as it sounds, the pellets were dry and contain hidden animal bones and skulls that the kids could find like hidden treasure. The activity went over so well, organizers are planning to expand on this theme next year by adding a virtual interactive program.
Because the exhibits were located in the gym with the presentations, I actually got to enjoy the programs, too. Among the presenters, John and Dale Stokes from S.O.A.R. performed their outstanding birds of prey show.Dale shows the crowd an American Kestrel.
In his second flying demonstration, the kestrel steals his prey and puts the viewers on edge by landing in the rafters. Then he peers down at everyone from his high perch! Coaxed down with another treat and signal, he rejoins his handlers and mantels the next food he captures from John's hand. Below, John shows the crowd a barred owl. All of S.O.A.R.'s educational birds are either injured or were imprinted on humans at an early age and are unable to survive in the wild. (Don't miss the expressions on the lower right of the photo!)
Below a broad-winged hawk...
who flies to Dale and snatches his prey. It's fun to get a close look at the relative size of these birds compared to each other and to humans.
Below, Dale introduces a red-tailed hawk with the "Krider's" pale morph coloration found more often in the west.
His flight demonstrations caused the crowd to gasp as he flew low over heads and lifted up at the last minute to land on Dale's glove with precision.
Pay a visit to S.O.A.R.'s blog for information about upcoming shows or to schedule a program.
Next: A black vulture steals the show.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.