Wild Bird Wednesday # 54
I am taking some liberties with this post because it is not all birds and some would say my birds are not wild ... but that is the point of this post. Last Tuesday I was privileged to join the Norther Illinois Raptor Center while giving a program in the Laurie Gardens of Millennium Park (Chicago, Illinois). This park is so wonderful I couldn't resist including some pictures with my WBW post ... but the birds are my story.
This is the Band Shell that was visible as we approached. It is a magnificent sculpture that serves to send the sound of music in many directions.
On the inside you can see how the sculpture extends out over the grass area so that even the person at the far back can hear the music at it's best.
On the other side of a tall hedge is "The Bean", another sculpture that has gained international attention. The Bean reflects and distorts everything around it and make a constantly changing (and personal) mural for all that are close to it.
And finally Laurie Gardens ... a garden of native perennials that lies in contrast to the looming buildings of the city.
As we stood in the gardens with birds, people from all over the world streamed by ... most were shocked to see our beautiful raptors and all were full of questions. Where did you get them? Are they tame? Can I touch them ... this is one of the reasons we give these programs. It is so important for the welfare of the wild raptors that people understand the importance of their role in nature (culling populations of rodents, other birds and insects to keep them in balance with nature). It is also important for the public to understand that they are not pets ... can never be pets. They are wild and their instincts prevent them from being domesticated. Many of the raptors in rehab facilities are there because people see them as babies, cute little fluff balls, in their nest or on the ground, having fallen from the nest. They want them as pets and take them home away from what they are meant to be. They feed them the wrong foods that destroys their health and as they grow older they become a danger, footing (grabbing with their long talons) and puncturing or ripping flesh with their curved beaks. They were born wild and they remain wild. Yes, we hold them on our gloves, but much work has gone into the training of the handlers and the birds to make this happen. As education birds they are given the best quality of life that we can provide in a captive setting, but we respect the fact that they remain wild and can be dangerous. So that is my message today ... never pick up a wild raptor baby and take it home ... it will never be your pet. Always call a trained rehabilitater if you find a baby or an injured adult. That is the best and safest solution for you and for the birds ...
Male American Kestrel
Great Horned Owl
Red Tailed Hawk
The birds of the park knew what they were and considered them a threat. Throughout the entire program they gathered in the trees and buildings around us sounding their alarm ... some even diving at the birds to drive them away. Wild knows wild ... even if we don't! Our education birds are birds that have been injured in some way and could not survive if they were released. That is the only reason they remain in captivity. And they continue to serve a purpose by educating us.