raptors have been injured or removed from the wild illegally
and deemed unable to return successfully by the U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service, HawkQuest or other similar organizations
become caretakers. The birds, which are fed and medicated
if needed, would otherwise perish in the wild.
the raptors are not typically given names because they are
not pets, explained Thomas, the Eagle, Free Spirit, took its
name after being stolen from the nest as a 2-month-old eaglet
and left disabled on a doorstep. The Eagle has seizures if
not medicated twice daily due to ingesting mercury early in
David Thomas and Nancy Fortran, and Deanna Curtis brought
the birds to Bennett for the purpose of educating the students
on how the raptors live and survive in nature. HawkQuest travels
throughout the state and across the nation educating the public
and interested groups of various ages although the main audience
is school children. The organization, which has about 50 volunteers
backing up a staff of three, gave raptor demonstrations to
over 50,000 students last year. The Bennett presentation was
funded at no cost to the school because HawkQuest received
a grant for educational demonstrations from the Dr. Scholl
Foundation last year.
have 14 different birds. We just acquired an immature 2-year-old
Bald Eagle," Thomas said.
will become part of the touring entourage after training,
he said, stressing the raptors will remain wild.
explained how each of the different birds acted in the wild
while asking questions of the captivated audience. The raptors
are varied in talents using their beaks, claws, eyes, and
ears to find and track their prey. The student were told how
the Great Horned Owl can see nearly 1,000 feet away by the
light of one candle, while the Peregrine Falcon dives at speeds
in excess of 150 miles per hour to catch its dinner-to-be
world] can be affected in most any way we want to affect it,
because we are human beings, by virtue of our intelligence,
and our opposable thumb, and our social organization. We are
the people that control what happens to the environment,"
Thomas said. "We try to give [students] an understanding
of the effects they can have, to make them realize they aren't
the only inhabitants."
Hawk was the only bird to fly at the school, albeit a bit
timidly. Twice the bird perched on top of the basketball support,
having to be coaxed down by Thomas.
love these birds, they don't love me," he said. "The
most I can hope is that they'll trust me."
Reprint from the The I-70
Scout Wednesday, April 11, 2001