team had decided to work together with our kindergarten classes
to do a whole-school owl adoption project for the 100th day of
school celebration. The kindergarteners celebrate when we reach
the 100th day of school for the year. They collect pennies and
then count and put them bags of 100. They donate the money to
good causes AND practice counting to one hundred.
We knew that the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center liked
to have owl adoptions because this brought in money to support
the animals in their care. You don't actually 'adopt' an owl
like kids are adopted. When kids are adopted, they are taken
home with new parents. When owls are adopted, people give money
to the zoo or wildlife center where they live to help pay for
their food, medical help, and care.
Our coaches contacted Mrs. Uhler, who runs the center,
to make arrangements for us to visit. We wanted to see raptors
up close. We also wanted to pick four owls to spotlight for an
all-school owl adoption vote. Whichever owl got the most votes
would get adopted.
There was one small main building where they took care
of birds and animals and there were lots of big cages outside.
This rehabilitation center is a small one, so they don't
actually operate on a hurt animal. They will take the animal to
an area veterinarian who does that. Then they bring the animal
back to the center to take care of it. Their main goal is to get
the animal healthy enough to be released (or let go) close to
where they found him. It was kind of cool to know that the
animals could go back to their original 'homes'.
We saw some animals and birds that won't ever get the
chance to go back in the wild. There are different reasons for
keeping animals instead of releasing them. An example: Sometimes
birds of prey are hit by cars or fly into something and break
their wings. Even though the center tries to fix the wing, they
are not always successful. If a bird is released into the wild,
it has to be able to take care of itself like it did before it
got hurt. A bird with a damaged wing would end up being killed
by another animals. Instead of that happening, centers keep them
to use for teaching children about birds of prey.
Another example that we saw was a
Barred Owl (See picture on the right). There were two of them sitting on a branch
inside a cage. They both saw us, but only one was pretending to
be a log, something it does when it's scared and wants to hide,
or camouflage itself. The other one was not afraid and just
watched us. We thought this was kind of funny until we were
told that this was not good. He was raised at the center and
was too used to humans. If a bird is not afraid of humans or other
birds, it would not hide when it needed to and could end up
being dinner for some other animal. So, he stays at the center
and won’t ever leave. The one on the right will be released.
Mrs. Uhler told us that rehabilitation centers need to
get lots of licenses and permits. They need these to keep caged
wild animals, and to keep
talons. There are United States federal laws and state laws
for this. It sounds like a whole lot of time and money go into
getting the paperwork done.
When we went inside, we saw owls, an opossum and a skunk
that doesn’t spray. We were very glad about that.
These animals were in cages. On the other side of the
room there were mice and rats. The rodents were white
and brown and most were sleeping. They wouldn’t have
been sleeping so happily if they knew what we found out.
These rodents would soon become food for the raptors!!!
We visited a
Saw-Whet Owl whose name was Minimas. He was at the center
because he broke a wing when he got hit by a car. Minimas
was the smallest owl they had at the center.
Screech Owls (see video). Inside that cage was a gray
Screech Owl and a reddish one named Flame! Flame had been hit
by a car. Everyone loved Flame because she ‘talked’ to us the
whole time we were there. She just kept chattering at us as if
she was actually talking. When Mrs. Uhler opened the cage for
us to get some pictures, the gray one flew out and landed on our
camera! Too bad we didn’t get a picture of that!
Mrs. Uhler showed us the many animals inside the other
cages. Then it was time to go outside. We had to walk a small
distance to reach outside cages. It was cold and the ground we
walked on was icy snow that made us feel even colder. The bird
cages were big because the birds need to be able to fly inside.
They don’t go far but they sure do flap their wings and make a
lot of noise trying.
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Other birds we saw there were:
Peregrine Falcon: Stormy was raised for
falconry. He eats quail, rats, mice, and smaller
Barred Owl: Benjamin looked like a log because
he was afraid of us. The other Barred Owl was sitting right by
him and not hiding at all. He was raised with
humans and he isn’t afraid of them. He wouldn’t be
able to survive if he was released into the wild so
he will stay there forever.
Red-tailed Hawks: These were beautiful birds
with their rusty red tails. One of them was going
to be released that day and we were sorry that we
weren’t going to see it!
Bald Eagle: He was a truly magnificent bird and
it is no wonder he was chosen as our national
symbol. He had yellow eyes and a feathery white
head. His yellow talons were awesomely scary.
this is a wildlife center, there were other animals there, too.
We mentioned the opossum and the skunk but there was a bobcat
named Rufus there, too. Rufus looked like a large, really
powerful, house cat. It didn’t take us long to realize that you
wouldn’t want Rufus curled up at the bottom of your bed. He
prowled the cage and rubbed against the bars like a regular cat
would. He purrs and lets you pet him through the bars. Mrs.
Uhler said that you would NOT want to actually go into the cage,
though. He growls and protects his territory. He was really
neat to see close up because our state has lots of them in the
wild but we never see them.
Every one of us thought that the visit was a terrific
one. All of us picked a different owl that we wanted to adopt.
The animals were getting excellent care and it was amazing to us
what “loving, care, devotion, and one rat a day” can do.
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