I recently started a 12-week Raptor Internship at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. The second class was this week; you can read about the first class here.
The focus of this week’s class was equipment. Prior to class we had to read the equipment chapter in our textbook, Raptors in Captivity. Most of the terminology and all of the mechanics were totally new to me, so I found it hard to visualize some things and how they attach to each other and to the bird. I didn’t even realize that some equipment stays on the bird more or less permanently.
During class Dawn showed us the various equipment, so the reading became clear as we could see and handle each thing. Different materials can be used for certain equipment (leather vs. nylon, etc), so that was discussed as well. Flint Creek has their own equipment preferences, but we are learning about the different possibilities that may be used at other facilities.
During the morning break I took this photo of the view from my table. I can see Meepy (the Barred Owl) from my seat, if she is sitting on my side of her mew. She’s perched just slightly left of center in this photo:
I walked up to the door and took a photo through the glass. She’s dozing.
Here are a few of the different gloves that Dawn showed us. The one on the far left is a two-piece over-the-elbow glove used for eagles.
At the end of last week we had learned that we would be making our own gloves during the second class. We all wondered what that meant and I think a few of us guessed we would be cutting and stitching something out of a fresh sheet of leather. Oh, how wrong we were!
After the morning break on Tuesday Dawn passed out pairs of welding gloves. She explained how we would make our gloves and then we went to work.
First, the right-hand glove was cut in half, between the middle and ring fingers down the middle. The gloves are leather with a denim lining and a woolly synthetic (?) padding in the fingers, so this was tough. The half with the thumb, index and middle fingers was saved and the rest was discarded. The saved half was then turned inside out and stuffed inside the left glove. Inverting the glove was very difficult – there are three layers to work with and the outer leather layer was tough! We used pens or the blunt ends of tools to help push the fingers inside-out. This step was accomplished with much grunting and just a bit of unhappy mumbling.
Once the cut piece was inverted and stuffed into the left-hand glove, the result was a glove with a double-reinforced top half. The two pieces were next sewn together, which was accomplished using heavy waxed thread, thick needles, pliers, and much grunting, mumbling and cursing.
I was able to invert my half glove fairly quickly, so I was able to start sewing before anyone else. Pushing the needle through two layers of welding glove was nearly futile and when Dawn asked if I could use a pair of pliers, I didn’t hesitate to accept them. Using the pliers, I was able to finish my sewing before the rest of the class. In the end I was even able to add a leash tie and a grommet for a hip loop before class was over. I’m kind of afraid my aptitude at glove-making means I will be lacking in other areas of the class (it figures, right?). We shall see! Anyway, I’m very pleased with my glove and I’m glad I was able to finish before it was time to leave for the day.
I took this photo during our lunch break. By this time I was working on sewing the two pieces together up the middle. I broke my needle (pictured) so I had to wait for Dawn to return with more needles before continuing. We all broke a LOT of needles!
Here’s the finished glove (click to embiggen). That’s the leash tie below the palm. The thin piece of leather at the bottom of the glove, used to fix the glove to our belts via a keychain, is tied through a grommet.
This is what the inside of the glove looks like (click to embiggen). Here you can see how the half right-hand glove is inverted and stuffed inside.
Since much of our time this week was spent working on our gloves, the five of us in the class (the no-show dropped out) spent some time chatting. We have different goals for the class but we all share a love for nature and for these birds we are going to get to work with. And I think we now all share an aversion to sewing. 🙂