In early October, shortly after moving into our new apartment, I started noticing an even-toned trill coming from outside my bedroom window beginning around 9pm. Having worked with birds quite a bit in the past, I knew immediately what I was hearing, a robin sized bird called the Eastern Screech Owl.
On Thursday Carin Avila, Rocky Mountain Raptor Program's (RMRP) Education Director, along with three volunteers, brought three live owls to our Mountain Sage Aftercare Program! She explains that RMRP is a rehabilitation program for raptors, founded by a vet club here in Fort Collins back in 1987. Each year they see about 300 injured wild raptors and 80% of those are rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Carin started us off by asking the class "What is a raptor? What makes a bird a raptor and not a song bird?"
Ashlyn raises her hand, "Um, raptors have gripping claws."
Jaymison raises his hand, "Don't they have a curved hooked bill?"
Malu raises his hand, "They have sharp talons!"
Carin explains that the gripping talons, and the hooked beak are what make this group of birds unique as raptors. Students raise their hand to give examples of raptors: Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, American Kestral, Snowy Owl, Osprey, Turkey Vulture. Carin explains that even thought RMRP still treats turkey vultures, they are not technically raptors because they do not have the gripping feet.