Cindy Page shared her knowledge and love of birds during her “Birds of Prey” presentation at Herkimer County Community College on Thursday.
Page, a wildlife rehabilitator with Page Wildlife Center, said at the start of her presentation, “I hope to get people to understand what to do if they come across wildlife.”
Page showed off several of the birds kept at the wildlife center in Manlius, including the Eastern screech owl, the Harris Hawk, the Peregrine falcon, the eagle owl, the snowy owl, the barn owl, the barred owl, the American Kestrel and the turkey vulture.
Page talked about how each bird is unique and how they came to the wildlife center.
Among some of the tidbits Page shared were:
• The fastest speed ever recorded for a Peregrine falcon is 283 miles per hour, and has been studied by NASA engineers to build a better jet.
• Peregrine falcons were an endangered species due to the popular use of the DDT pesticide after World War II. Thanks to safer pesticides and efforts of wildlife conservationists, Peregrine falcons can be found outdoors again, sometimes using skyscrapers in cities as their perch rather than a cliff in the wild.
• At about five pounds, snowy owl females are 30 percent larger than male snowy owls. They also have denser feathers to survive the artic cold and their plumage turns whiter as they get older.
• Owls can’t really turn their necks all the way around since they do have vertebrae.
• Turkey vultures wings form a V-shape and fly using the wind currents. They’re also considered the “garbage men” of the bird world.
Page warned about animals becoming too imprinted by humans. The American Kestrel she showed during her presentation had been taken in by a family and fed hamburger meat, which is not nutritious for the bird. She said the bird has become so badly imprinted by humans, it wouldn’t know how to survive in the wild. It would instead find a human and beg for food.
“An imprinted wild animal should never be released back into the wild,” she said.
Page was invited to show her program at the college by Ron Carvin, an HCCC biology professor, because of its educational value.
“It’s a good program, especially for my biology students,” said Carvin.
Carvin also said it gives students an experience they might never have had before.
“A lot of these students have never been around a bird before, other than pigeons,” he said.
Many of those in the audience were biology students.
“I like learning about this. I find birds very interesting,” said Cristina Chilleli, an HCCC science major. “I like seeing the bigger owls. I’m a Harry Potter fan.”
Page 2 of 2 - The Harry Potter book and movie series features owls as part of the daily life of its characters, including a snowy owl and an eagle owl, which were among two of the birds she exhibited. Page said there were some concerns among wildlife experts about parents who may think owls made good pets because of the series, when they should be kept wild.
“It’s interesting to see them up close,” said Susan Smith, an HCCC student, about the birds. “I liked seeing the screech owl, the little one.”