Tuesday, November 3, 2015
On September 25, 2015, World Bird Sanctuary staff member Kelsey McCord and I packed the van with birds and all of the support equipment that goes with traveling for shows, and off we went on our adventure to Mississippi.
This was our first year at the Arkabutla Lake Eagle Fest and my first ever trip to Mississippi. We had a nice drive to Mississippi and arrived mid to late afternoon on a Friday. Once we arrived at our hotel we got the birds set up in the hotel conference room. It is always nice when the birds have their own room.
Lake Arkabutla (photo: Cathy Spahn)
On Saturday September 26, we got up early and headed to our program located at Arkabutla Lake. Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc very nicely provided some fencing for the display area, so we set out the birds for their all day display from 10-4. Because of close by trees we did not have to worry about shade for the birds, so we put the provided tent over the table we had set up with information about World Bird Sanctuary.
Mortimer the Turkey Vulture was fascinated with the pinecones and pine needles (photo: Cathy Spahn)
Once we were set up we walked down to the shore of the lake and realized just how beautiful and large the lake is. We had perfect temperatures for the display and programs. Both Jersey the Barred Owl and Patriot the Bald Eagle were fascinated with something in the woods. Mortimer, the Turkey Vulture, on the other hand was so excited to discover pine cones and pine needles. He had a blast picking up the pine cones and tossing them and then chasing them.
We did two, 30-minute programs, free flying MacGyver, Harris Hawk and Mortimer, Turkey Vulture, and those two birds awed the audience. Patriot then made her appearance. You could see the excitement and awe in everyone’s face. After the program I gave people the chance to have their photos taken with Patriot and Kelsey.
After the first program there was a sunny spot in the birds’ weathering area and Patriot put on her sun display and started sunning herself to the delight of the passers-by.
The best reaction I have ever had from a program came at the end of the second program. As I finished the program Kelsey turned with Patriot and was walking out of the pavilion. A young boy, about 8-10 years old, spoke up very loudly, saying, “That was Awesome!” That was the best compliment of the weekend. We had a ton of compliments, everyone loved the birds and the program, but that one moment was the best.
My first WILD nine-banded armadillo (photo: Cathy Spahn)
After we packed up at the end of the day and thanked everyone, we got on the road, and that is when the day got even better and I photographed my first wild nine-banded armadillo. We did not think the trip could go any better and then that happened.
We are looking forward to returning to this great festival at a beautiful peaceful location!
Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer