Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Whisper in the Dark

Last Wednesday evening I finished my formal training at The Raptor Center. When I first began volunteering at The Raptor Center I joined the transport crew. The transport crew is a group of on call volunteers who are sent out to pick up injured raptors that people find but can not bring in themselves. I really wanted to do education but I was not sure if I could fit it into my work schedule. Since I had already rescued an immature bald eagle on my own, I decided that transport would be a good place to start as a volunteer. However I was not satisfied with just doing transport. I wanted to be more involved then just being an on call volunteer waiting for a phone call so that I could help out, so I asked if I could come in during my on call hours and help out. So I ended up as the lobby assistant on Wednesday afternoons greeting people and helping out. However I still wanted to do more. I really enjoy working with the public to educate them about raptors so I asked about moving to the education crew. It took a while but they finally set up an official volunteer training.

The training made for a couple of really long days, work 8 hours, then off to volunteer for about 4 hours, grab a quick bite to eat and then back for about 3 hours of training. It was long but fun and I am very excited to be starting on the education crew. Since Emily had taken over the lobby assistant duties I asked to shadow a tour that Adam was giving. Adam is one of the staff so it was really interesting and informative tagging along on the tour. His back ground is in environmental education and it really showed. This particular tour was for a donor who was adopting our educational barn owl named Whisper. So after the tour Adam gave the donor the special treatment and brought Whisper out so that the group could get a closer look. This gave me the opportunity to get some nice pics.
We don't really have barn owls in Minnesota except for occasional sightings. The winters here are just typically too cold for their liking and there is a lack of old barns to roost in.
Although they are not commonly found in Minnesota the barn owl is found on every continent around the world except Antarctica. There are up to 46 different varieties with the North American version being the largest.
Barn owls are rare in the bird world because the female is actually more colorful then the male. Females typically have more red in the chest area and are more heavily spotted. It is believed that the number of spots indicate the quality of the female to a potential mate.

Barn owls have superb hearing. They have the ability to find their prey better in complete darkness then any other animal tested.Barn owls have a high metabolism and are very efficient at controlling the populations of mice and other rodents. It has been calculated that an average barn owl living 10 years could catch and eat as many as 11,000 mice in its lifetime.


Nora said...

Ohh I just loved this post and the pictures with your Canon are yummy good....we have a Raptor centre here and I just did a post on it but my barn owl ...not as good as yours. I read your post on your camera but can't find what lens you have...I am looking for a new lens for my canon.

Ecobirder said...

Ocean, thanks for the compliment. I will have to go check out your post on your raptor center. Your posts are always very interesting. The lens that I use is a Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6 IS lens. I am working on a post with a lot more info on my equipment. Hopefuly I will get it finished soon.