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Union Zoology Students Enjoy Birds Of Prey Demonstration

Titus, a red tailed hawk, flies toward Master Class Falconer Crystal Stacey  as Union High School students watch.

Union High School may be the home of the Redhawks and advanced zoology students enjoyed an opportunity to meet Titus, a real red tailed hawk, and Sir Dante, a young Eurasian eagle owl, thanks to a presentation from Edged Feather Experiences, a falconry outfit based in Okema.

Master Class Falconer Crystal Stacey and Keara Miller for Edged Feather brought the large birds for two presentations for the students on the track behind the High School today. The students are taught by Environmental Science & Advanced Zoology teacher Emily Hallford.

Stacey, who led most of the discussion, showed the students the birds, demonstrating how they are trained and can fly back and forth to her, their eating habits, and talked about how the birds live and how they have adapted.

Stacey, a wildlife educator, has been working with and training birds of prey for more than a decade. During that time, she has performed more than 1000 educational programs in nine states across the country. When not performing her educational programs, she works behind the scenes on films sets as an animal wrangler.

Titus flew over the students a few times and walked up his trainer as students and staff members snapped photos and took video. Sir Dante, an even bigger bird of prey, was less sure of the environment, in part because he is young, she said, and the wind and noise in the neighborhood tend to distract owls, as she explained why Sir Dante was teathered and Titus flew freely.

Students also had the opportunity to view a casting pellet Titus made this morning. A casting pellet is basically a regurgitated pellet of materials, insects mainly, the bird has eaten earlier, which students and staff found fascinating (and maybe a little gross.)

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