Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Sharon Krug, left, and great niece Ceci Mankin, 7, check out radiographs of pins to help set fractures during the Soarin' Hawk event at Franke Park on Saturday. The event included bird of prey presentations, face painting, pellet dissection, X-rays of bird injuries, and more.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017 7:30 pm

Birds of prey excite visitors at Soarin' Hawk event

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

When Barbara Hathaway took on the care of an injured eagle this spring, she had to wait five days for blood tests to come back.

Hathaway, a volunteer with the Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center, tended to the 10- to- 12-pound eagle with a 7-foot wing spread at her home.

The bad news is three weeks later on April 13, the eagle died. But with its death came good. From Soarin' Hawk's Facebook postings on the eagle's plight came enough donations for the center to purchase its own lead poisoning kit.

The eagle, who went unnamed as all raptors do when in rehab, died of poisoning from a pellet the size of a sprinkle, Hathaway said. Volunteers hoped the bird would pass the pellet it probably ingested from eating prey. Instead, the pellet stayed inside the bird's body and continued poisoning it.

The pellet was displayed Saturday in a vial in an exhibit at a Bird of Prey presentation. The annual presentation, held at Franke Park's Pavilion 1, is in its fifth year, said Hathaway, a Soarin' Hawk volunteer for seven years.

About 600 people showed up to meet some of the center's show birds and learn the ways of birds of prey, which include hawks, eagles, kestrels, falcons, owls and turkey vultures,

Soarin' Hawk does a lot of public outreach all year at schools, libraries, senior citizen centers and other places, said Dr. Pat Funnel, a veterinarian who is the non-profit's president.

"You name it we go there," Funnel said. Currently, Soarin' Hawk is on private land.

Funnel said Soarin' Hawk needs about 20 acres to build a public center. Land with trees, would be perfect, but flat farmland would be welcome, too.

Mike Dobbs, the center's vice president, is overseeing plans for five raptor buildings at the proposed public center the organization hopes to start building this year. The 50-by-80 feet oval buildings would allow physical therapy for the injured birds that come to them from the Department of Natural Resources and other places.

Recently, two baby hawks were turned over to the center, because the landowners accidentally cut down the tree where they were nesting. Some birds are hit by cars; others may have been shot.

During physical therapy, birds are leashed and then encouraged to fly through a method called creance flying.

"When we release them, we make sure they can sustain themselves," Hathaway said. For that, they need two good eyes and two good wings.

All volunteers are welcome and can contact the organization through soarinhawk@soarinhawk.org or keep up with the non-profit's activities through Facebook. The group treats about 200 birds a year, Funnel said. 

jduffy@jg.net