Talons, beaks, and feathers, oh my!

Talons, beaks, and feathers, oh my!

Yesterday, we kicked off our ornithological version of our All the Rivers Run resident program.  In this adapted resident program, students will don their binoculars and focus their week’s exploration on birds.  While still hitting the essential goals of the regular All the Rivers Run classes, like discovering personal connections to the surrounding watershed, the ornithological curriculum includes classes on bird adaptations and climate change.

To ignite our students’ enthusiasm for birds, we opened the week with special guests from the Medina Raptor Center.  We were introduced to five birds, currently in rehab for detrimental injuries, and now used for education.  The following are fun facts we learned about several remarkable feathered friends.



-Small but mighty raptor

-Can dive at speeds close to 60mph

-Live in open meadows away from urban areas

-Are able to see light in the ultra violet spectrum, which makes mouse urine visible



Peregrine Falcon:Picture2

-Nest in tall trees, bridges and buildings

-Can fly 75mph flat across the sky and up to 220mph in a dive!

-Capable of snatching smaller birds out of the sky

-Live in both country and urban areas




Red-Tailed Hawk:

-Typically brown with a red tail

-Leucistic hawks, like this one, are white due to a lack of melanin pigment

-Have incredible eye sight, equivalent to reading a newspaper across a football field

-Talons can crush prey with a force of 500 pounds per square inch

-Fly 35mph and up to 100mph in a dive


Barn Owl:Picture4

-Eat approximately 2000 mice per year

-Only owl that does not “hoot”

-Called “Ghost Owl” by Native Americans

-Humans would have tennis ball sized eyes if we were proportioned like the Barn Owl

-Can spin their head 270 degrees



Turkey Vulture (Buzzard):

-Scavenger, not a raptor

-Called “Peace Eagles” by Native Americans because they do not kill their prey; they eat meat that is already dead

-Can smell from several miles away

-Capable of soaring up to six hours without flapping wings

-Feet are not strong like raptors, but use their sharp beak as a knife and fork

-Family oriented, unlike solitary raptorsPicture5


For more information on these amazing creatures, check out the Medina Raptor Center’s website.

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