GIRLS club learns about
Birds of Prey

By Liz Dadson


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Sketching a hawk's wing, from a real example, are Priya Kalra (L), 11, of Kincardine, Eila Barger, 11, of Kincardine, and Catherine Hazzard, 13, of Bervie, at the GIRLS club Friday morning at the Bruce Power Visitors' Centre

Jenn Bock of Wild Ontario tells the story of "Whistler," the hawk

The activities were mostly hands-off this time as the Girls In Real Life Sciences (GIRLS) club learned about Birds of Prey Friday morning at the Bruce Power Visitors' Centre.

Twenty-three girls in Grades 4-7, from the Kincardine and Port Elgin area, attended the event, organized by Women in Nuclear (WiN) Bruce and sponsored by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Bruce Power.

The entire group, including the adults and helpers, was fascinated by the four birds showcased by Jenn Bock of Wild Ontario, part of the University of Guelph.

Bock is director of the Birds of Prey program and brought with her a falcon, a hawk, an owl, and a turkey vulture, captivating the audience with not only the live birds but the information she shared about each one.

She also had bird feet, wings, skulls and other bio-artifacts for the girls to see and touch, and draw as part of the activities.

The falcon, "Apollo," was the first bird Bock presented and he was a hit.

The next was "Whistler," the hawk, which was found in a farmer's field. It was later discovered the bird had been kept in captivity and trained to the glove and then thrown into the wild by whoever had trained him. He had human-imprinting and was unable to return to his natural habitat.

"Einstein," the great-horned owl, was the next to stare out at the crowd. She is named for the tufts on her head that look like horns, but they are actually feathers, said Bock.

Her feathers are coloured so that she is camouflaged in the wilderness. This allows her to hunt at night and sleep undisturbed during the day.

Owls have large eyes, said Bock. If humans were built the same way, they would have eyes the size of grapefruits. They can turn their heads three-quarters of the way around in order to preen their feathers. And their huge eyes allow plenty of light to enter since they are nocturnal animals.

"Einstein," the owl

While most birds have eyes on the sides of their heads, owls have both eyes in the front, similar to humans, Bock said. This allows them great depth perception for landing on stumps and catching prey. Their eyes are held in place by bone which is why they have to move their heads to see around.

Despite the big eyes, owls use their ears to hunt. They can find their prey and eat it without ever seeing it. Their ears are asymmetrical so they can hear all around their heads.

The final bird to be presented by Bock was "Socrates," the turkey vulture, with only one wing. The other wing was damaged in a car accident.

"That's what happens when you eat roadkill, you can end up as roadkill," said Bock. "These scavengers are good to have around because they clean up the dead animals in the wild. They can process them, so they keep the world healthier and cleaner for the rest of us."

Bock encouraged the girls to learn more about the wild by checking the Wild Ontario website at www.ourwildontario.ca

Jenn Bock holds "Socrates," the turkey vulture


Emma Arnold (L), 10, of Kincardine, and Sheetal Gill, 9, of Tiverton try to touch fingers while each has one eye closed in an exercise in depth perception

Jenn Bock holds "Einstein," the owl

Julia Sweet (L), Keira Hazzard, 11, of Bervie, and Faith Catalan, 10, of Kincardine sketch an owl wing

Jenn Bock of Wild Ontario showcases "Einstein," the great-horned owl, and why owls have such large eyes

Jenn Bock with "Whistler," the broad-winged hawk

Alexandra Thorn (L) and Amelia Arciszewski, both 10 of Kincardine, sketch an owl's wing

Ashley Cox (L), of Kincardine assists Jenn Bock with "Whistler," the hawk

Catherine Hazzard (L), 13, of Bervie and Melissa Ross, 9, of Ripley try an experiment in three-dimensional sight

The GIRLS club members get a close-up view of the turkey vulture, "Socrates"

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Sunday, February 05, 2012