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Voices of Spencer Creek
|The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Sisterhood–a Poem, and Visiting the Cascade Raptor Center
These neighbors would prefer a rose or a mouse to a cookie, thank you
By Lois Barton
Posted on Jul 30, 2003
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For many years I've supervised
as barnyard mothers tend their young,
washing their ears and scratching fleas;
with rough tongue licking off the dung.
Those barnyard babies are like mine.
They keep coming back for more.
When baby stands as high as mom
she still performs her daily chore.
This morning I looked on awhile
as doe caressed her yearling fawn,
both neck and ears were groomed in style
before the young one ambled on.
For months I've scolded doe and twins.
Each night they raid my garden plot.
The rose bush is a skeleton,
Young fruit trees eaten back to naught.
And now I must revise my view.
She's just a wild deer from the wood,
But loves and tends her babies too.
Can I deny our sisterhood?
Visiting the Cascade Raptor Center
|Toto, the male (blue-gray wings), was brought into a rehabilitation center in Kansas during the summer of 1994 with a broken leg and very tattered feathers resulting from malnutrition. He was also missing his left eye, probably from a cat scratch. He had been raised illegally and is a human imprint. He was transferred to CRC in October 1994. –from the web pages of The Cascade Raptor Center |
There is in our Spencer Butte neighborhood a Cascade Raptor Center. For several years I've driven past the clearly labeled mailbox at roadside and been mildly curious about it. Occasional news stories in local media have generated questions for me.
What does a raptor center do?
Is it some kind of public service?
Who pays for it?
What exactly are raptors anyway?
And a final question as I got answers to some of the first questions:
What is the point of being concerned about the occasional injured bird?
The other day I made an appointment and took a tape recorder along, planning to interview the director. But Louise Shimmel, that dignitary, first took me to see the resident raptors in many separate cages scattered over a wooded hillside.
That tour brought us eye to eye with not only familiar crows, ravens, hawks, owls, but also more exotic eagles, falcons, a goshawk, a turkey vulture. A surprising element of the tour was seeing placement of 17,000 square feet of screening to protect the residents from mosquitoes bearing newly threatening West Nile virus.
After the tour we sat in the visitors center while Louise began answering my questions. A handout flyer defines raptors as "birds of prey, eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, ospreys and kites. Hunting birds with keen eyesight and hearing, strong feet with sharp talons for grasping and killing prey, and curved beaks for ripping up their food. ...they are the only birds that hunt with their feet."
The Cascade Raptor Center is a wild life hospital for injured birds. It has some 30 permanent residents whose history prevents them from being released to survive in the wild. It also treats and releases birds who are rehabilitated and ready to take their place again in the wild population. An eagle had been released before my visit that day.
In the beginning Louise was working with a Willamette Wildlife center in her home. "We were active from 1985 and we saw 400 animals that year," she said.
They moved to the Wayne Morse Park in 1989, but they were not allowed to have outside cages, and the raptors could not be accommodated there. She was going back and forth from her home and the park to do her work. They had to find a new home for the Center. The program was dealing with 1,500 animals a year, all different species, and there was no time for education which is the preventive side.
The Cascade Raptor Center is an established not-for-profit organization, licensed by the government. Louise is a state and federally licensed rehabilitator. The Center bought the former Mross home at the southeast edge of Eugene on the south shoulder of the Butte near the Ridgeline Trail. It handles about 200 cases of raptors a year. Education is an important part of their program. Volunteers do much of the work. There is an assistant director who is an Americore worker. She gets some small salary from Americore. Her responsibilities include coordination of the volunteers and their training and she helps with education.
Louise pointed out that it is people oriented stuff that brings birds in. They have collided with vehicles, power poles and lines, fences or windows. They've been caught by cats or dogs, foothold traps or "rescued" as young things, possibly orphaned by construction, loss of habitat, even storms that blow down nesting sites.
Human relations with raptors goes back thousands of years. Falconery is one example. The Egyptian culture revered birds as messengers from the gods. "It's amusing to me," Louise said, "to see all the cars or football teams that are named after raptors. They are like totems."
An instruction sheet telling one what to do when dealing with an injured bird explains: "Injured birds may be brought to the Center, or a phone call notifies us of the need. In an emergency the first thing to do is to recognize that the animal will not understand that you are trying to help. The second thing to assume is that it is in shock, both from the original cause of its injury or trauma and from being handled by you. Shock involves loss of body heat and fluids. A licensed rehabilitator is trained to deal with these and other problems; bleeding, possible broken bones, starvation, parasites or other situations , and the Center has facilities to care for these unfortunate creatures. An important factor in the picture is knowing whether the animal really needs rescuing. This is where education comes in. Most people do not know enough about the life style of wild creatures to recognize, for example, that a young one that seems too young to be left alone is not abandoned but may have been safely bedded by parents while they forage for food."
So what is the point of being concerned about an occasional injured bird? Louise mentioned the spotted owl facing extinction and observed that education had eased that threat for this particular species. From their flyer: "Cascade Raptor Center's non-releasable animal ambassadors provide living examples of the devastating impact human activity can have on the other creatures with whom we share this planet, as well as powerful reasons to mitigate that impact. ...raptors are protected by state, federal and international laws, and are considered an important factor in the larger ecological picture of which we are all a part."
And "Wildlife rehabilitators of the world are part of a larger picture that includes many different people pursuing many different types of work aimed at conservation and preservation of the diversity of the wild world. Together we strive to save individual lives, whole species, habitats and whole ecosystems, so that there will always be a wilderness."
Louise maintains an e-mail list for raptor rehabilitators. "There are raptor centers on our list. Most of them are in North America, some in England, South Africa, Australia and elsewhere."
The Center has a web site:
Look there for some great color pictures of raptors.
E-mail address: email@example.com.
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