Falcons, Hawks, and Owls: Oh My!

Sixth graders got a hoot out of some very special visitors to Moses Brown. Students in English and science classes have recently been studying a unit on birds, and to conclude their courses, the students were able to visit with real birds of prey and experience two exciting presentations that brought their studies to life.

After learning the different types of birds, students were able to hear more about the “raptors” that live right here in their own backyards. Peter Green, photographer and author of Providence Raptors, came to MB on April 6 to share his spectacular collection of photos and stories of peregrine falcons living at the top of the Industrial National Bank Building a.k.a. the “Superman Building” in Providence.

Peter has devoted over 10 years to understanding peregrine falcons and other raptors like hawks and owls who roam the skies of Providence. When he learned that falcons were living atop of the Superman Building, he set up a 24/7 webcam that he shared online for himself and others to watch the falcons in action. In his presentation, Peter spoke all about peregrine falcons, from what they eat and how they get their food (with their amazingly strong talons), to their incredible vision, to how they grow from an egg to an adult. Who knew baby falcons could be so cute?

 

 

Peter has created an online community (@providenceraptors) invested in spreading awareness around these beautiful birds that live in Rhode Island, and he loves being able to share his story to groups around the state and beyond. “People often ask me why I don’t travel to exotic places like Africa to take photos of wildlife,” Peter said. “I actually prefer to focus my work in Providence and Rhode Island because no one else is telling this exact story.”

Later in the week on April 8, students received the unique opportunity to personally meet with some high-flying friends. MB welcomed Tracey Hall and Marina Flannery from the Audubon Society of R.I. and their three raptors to the Woodman Center to meet students and talk about the lives of raptors and the role they play in our local ecosystem.

 

 

Students got involved in the interactive presentation, discussing what kind of animals are raptors (carnivores/predators), and the basic criteria behind what makes a bird a raptor. When the group was asked, “What are the different kinds of raptors that live in Rhode Island?” hands across the audience shot up in excitement. “Falcons! Hawks! Owls! Ospreys!”

Once the fundamentals were established, the special guests of the afternoon could make their debut. The anticipation heightened each time Marina or Tracey would head backstage to bring out a bird – these animals can be a little intimidating after all! To the audience’s relief, the first guest to the stage was a tiny screech owl named Acorn (met with several “aww’s”), next a 26-year-old great horned owl with one wing named Webster, and finally a 19-year-old red-tailed hawk named Lady Hawk, who sustained an injury to her wing.

 

The Audubon Society rescues and cares for many raptors and other birds, all of which have experienced an injury that requires them to be held in their shelter permanently. For this reason, these birds are safe to show to the public. The Society presents to groups across Rhode Island, educating others about how we can ensure these birds can live long and happy lives out in the wild.

Many thanks to our special guests for sharing their knowledge with us. Now our sixth graders are real know-it-owls!