Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hawk Presentaions Look Promising

I have made so much progress with Jasper the hawk in the past month it is crazy. Two days ago we had a friend named Wendy, who has a lot of knowledge on raptors, come and help us with our birds. We toweled Jasper and put jesses on his legs and trimmed his beak and talons. At the same time we trimmed one of our owls and a broad winged hawk's beak and talons as well. I learned how to put the jesses on and practiced by putting on one of Jasper's. I also got to trim our broad winged hawk's talons myself and I trimmed his beak too and filed it down using a drummel. It was very nerve-racking but I did it. I learned so much from Wendy about not only trimming talons and beaks and putting on jesses, but also how to handle the birds as well. She does a lot of educational programs with the Burlington Science Center so she had so much to teach me.

Ever since we put the jesses on Jasper it has made it so much easier to work with him. Since he trusts me enough to sit on my arm and eat from my hand, I have been walking around the zoo with him and getting him used to other people. Because now that I have the jesses to hold, I can have complete control of him. I never let him be in control even when I bring him back into his enclosure; I am the one to place him back on his perch rather than have him fly to it. Everyone at the zoo is so excited for me to start doing hawk presentations, since right now we do not have any bird of prey shows, and guests always love to see these amazing birds up close and learn more about them.

Right now I'm working on my script for my show. I'm going to talk about the history of falconry and how birds of prey are used today. I'm going to tell the audience how I was able to gain the trust of Jasper by making him realize the only way he was going to get food was if he came to me, and that is how I was able to "man" him. I am also going to teach everyone important facts, not only about red-tailed hawks, but of birds of prey in general. I'm going to focus a lot on hawks' eyesight (which is about 8 times as strong as a human's) since Jasper can not be released into the wild because he has really bad eyesight and therefore, I was able to use him as an educational animal, and I know he was made to do this job.

I know that I want to be able to work with animals like Jasper for the rest of my life. It gives me such joy to work closely and form a bond with such a wild and powerful creature. I hope to teach many people about not just birds of prey but all animals and hopefully they can appreciate these animals the same way I do.

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