Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Journey to the World Bird Sanctuary

One of the questions frequently asked by audience members is, " did you come to work for the World Bird Sanctuary?"  Following is staff member Sara Oliver's story.

My Journey to the World Bird Sanctuary

I was fortunate enough to begin working full-time for the World Bird Sanctuary in October 2009.  To give a little background on myself, I grew up in Orange County, New York, graduated from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife science, and then moved to Hillsboro, Missouri (where my husband’s family lives) in May 2009.  Two weeks after we moved, I headed to Florida to fulfill a summer field position where I trapped Santa Rosa beach mice, applied radio collars to them and tracked their movements.

While in Florida, I lived on Eglin Air Force Base on Santa Rosa Island where many beautiful Ospreys would nest or perch in dead trees right along the road!

When I returned to Missouri, I began to volunteer at the World Bird Sanctuary’s rehabilitation hospital where I met some very sweet birds, like Tigger the tawny owl, and some very intimidating birds, like Spike the common black hawk.  The first time I carried her on my glove, I was in awe of how long her legs and neck are.  She reminds me of some prehistoric creature.  When I was hired, I began working in the Education Training Center, the lower site that is not usually open to the public.  A month later, I moved to work at the Nature Center and occasionally the Visitor’s Center.

I first became interested in animals after I joined a 4-H rabbit club at age 11 where I learned how to raise and show pedigree rabbits!  Not known to the average person, there are 46 recognized breeds of rabbits in the US.  I would bring my bunnies to rabbit shows where they would be judged based on a written standard.  This became a big hobby of mine throughout middle and high school.  I steered towards the study of wildlife in college and interned at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Tennessee the summer before my senior year.  There I was able to handle my first bird of prey, an injured eastern screech owl.  Thereafter I learned to handle barred owls, red-shouldered hawks, great horned owls, and cooper’s hawks.  None of these birds were glove-trained as many of them are at the World Bird Sanctuary.  A few of the non-releasable birds would stand on my casting glove for a while, but they did not wear anklets, jess’s and leashes.  At WBS I was thrilled to learn how to carry a trained bird on my arm while walking.  It is so nice to be able to admire the birds of prey so close on my arm when they are calm and comfortable!

Submitted by Sara Oliver, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

Sara holding Max, a Tawny Eagle

1 comment:

Susan said...

You are a lucky girl to get to be so close to these magnificent birds. You have always loved the little (and big) creatures of the world - you are truly a natural in the World Bird Sanctuary environment as well as in all of the good old outdoors! Keep up the good work and thanks for the overview of your journey....