Friday, June 29, 2012

From Intern to Staff Member

My name is Whitney Cowan and I wanted to tell our readers about the great experience I’ve had working with the birds and people at the World Bird Sanctuary.

Before coming to the sanctuary, I had absolutely no prior experience involving birds of prey, but of course I realized that an internship at the World Bird Sanctuary would be an awesome experience. 
 I never dreamed that an internship would evolve into a full-time job
I was born in Phoenix and we moved to Missouri when I was about 5 years old and have lived outside the town of Bland (it is a real townJ) ever since. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a deep love and respect for all animals.   As a child growing up in the woods I was fortunate that I could spend most of my free time with such animals as horses, cats, dogs, chickens, emus and others.

As a great many youngsters do, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I wanted to have a career caring for animals.  However, after attending college and getting a degree in Biological Science, I decided I wanted to have a more hands-on day-to-day experience working with animals. Most vets only see their patients for a short visit and then the animals go home.  I wanted to be part of their lives on a daily basis.  I never imagined I would be able to work so closely with the birds of prey at the World Bird Sanctuary.

Initially I was introduced to the Sanctuary by my brother Neal, He works in the Education Department at the World Bird Sanctuary’s Nature Center and he suggested that I should apply for an internship. After touring the facilities and seeing the birds kept there, I definitely knew this was what I wanted.

When I started my internship I was introduced to a variety of birds of prey.  The best part was being able to carry them on the glove! I learned a lot about the care of these birds, including prepping their food and flying them for exercise. Working at the rehabilitation hospital, in the Nature Center, and at the Training facilities was an eye-opening experience that taught me about how the World Bird Sanctuary is educating the public and helping to protect biodiversity.

My internship evolved into a full time job, and I am now responsible for several birds of prey that WBS keeps at Grant’s Farm for the Animal Encounter shows. I couldn’t be more excited to have this opportunity to introduce these birds to the public and show them the majesty of the Bald Eagle and the entrancing beauty of the Barn Owl!
 Stetson, the Harris' Hawk 
One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had because of my Grant’s Farm job has been training a Harris’ Hawk named Stetson. He has a set pattern of flights that involves flying to perches above the audience, then flying back to perches on the stage. We have certainly been through a lot of “practice” flights before he got the routine down and nothing is quite as exciting as when he flies a perfect pattern!

Submitted by Whitney Cowan – Grant’s Farm Supervisor

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