22 January 2015

Educational Raptor Event at UNO

A unique collaborative event brought raptors to the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The featured birds were a Barred Owl (named Nahi), an American kestrel (Abilena) and a Broad-winged Hawk (Chinkapin).

Clem Klaphake with Nahi.

Tad Leeper with Abilena.

Michelle Foss with Chinkapin.

Numerous students enjoyed getting up close to the raptors with many cell phone pictures taken by the excited people present.

Volunteers Clem Klaphake and Tad Leeper — who both enjoy teaching others about nature and birds — along with Michelle Foss and Jeanine Lackey of Fontenelle Forest were present to handle the birds and answer the many questions.

The event on Thursday, January 22nd was because of cooperation between The Collaborative at UNO and Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery.

The raptor recovery group holds many similar events in Nebraska, with more than 20,000 attendees in 2014. Many volunteers, including a raptor recovery relay team, occur statewide with program efforts extending to Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado. There is a field hospital in Elmwood, Nebr.

"We have had many new educational opportunities since taking over the recovery program," said Brad Watkins, communications director for the Fontenelle Forest Association. There is a monthly "raptors live at the forest," he said. Several display birds dwell in mews along the along the boardwalk east of the nature center in Bellevue, and can be enjoyed by visitors to the forest.

This was certainly the first time there have been birds of prey in the Community Engagement Center on the city campus, and an appreciation for the event was obvious.