During this week’s Raptor Internship at Flint Creek we finished covering the natural history of raptor species. In the afternoon we had more handling practice.
First we wrapped up discussing the diurnal raptors and then covered the nocturnal raptors of North America, again with a focus on the birds most commonly seen in Illinois. During part of the lecture Dawn had Turkey, Flint Creek’s resident Turkey Vulture, on her glove. Turkey likes to stand with his wings spread out. While Dawn was lecturing, he yawned several times. I guess he’d heard it all before.
Before the lunch break I asked who we would be handling in the afternoon. Just then Junior, one of Flint Creek’s Great Horned Owls, was being brought into the building by a volunteer. As if to answer me, right at that moment he hooted loudly. I had my answer – we’d get to work with Junior!
Junior came to Flint Creek via RAPTOR, Inc, in Ohio. He’s got quite a history, a big part of which you can read over at Susan’s blog: The owl who loved me. Junior has been at Flint Creek since 2007. The past two winters he has had a female Great Horned Owl outside his mew and trying to get in, apparently interested in his amorous calls (she would move on, eventually). From what I have seen, Junior is very vocal. The boy loves to hoot.
One thing we heard about Junior was that although he is fully flighted, he has a tendency to not correct himself after a bate. Before we took turns walking with him, Dawn brought him into the classroom to see if he would bate, so she could demonstrate how to help him back up. He was not immediately cooperative.
Once outside, just before handing him off to the first student, he bated. He didn’t self-correct so the other students ran over to watch Dawn demonstrate getting him upright again.
While one student was walking with Junior, the rest of us helped a bit with mew maintenance (ie cleaning up poop, pellets & leftovers, scrubbing and replenishing water).
Finally it was my turn to walk with Junior.
He was so relaxed during our walk around the grounds. I was kind of hoping he would bate so I could correct him, but he was just chillaxing, giving a hoot here and there and looking around. And it was a nice day for a change, with lots of sun breaking through big white clouds, not too cold.
Back inside I took a few more photos of him. Gratuitous glam shots:
Later we all got to walk with Meepy again (squee!) and take a second walk with Junior. Meepy was like a different bird, she was so much more relaxed than last week. I was also more relaxed, and I was able to keep my arm in position much better than before. I could see a big improvement in myself from last week to this week. 🙂 Still need to work on my arm strength though.