At the Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca, Ill., a non-profit group is dedicated to the protection and care of raptors.
The group, Wings and Talons, provides care and training of injured and displaced birds, as well as public education programs that promote its mission of stewardship and conservation of the amazing birds of prey it calls “nature’s fighter jets.”
Wild Goose Chase Field Operations Manager Lorelei Cole is one of more than 20 Wings and Talons volunteers who help to feed, train and care for the birds of prey housed at the nature center. Some birds arrive with injuries; others are former pets that require lifelong care.
Lorelei Cole holds a female great horned owl at the Springbrook Nature Center.
Cole learned about the opportunity at Wings and Talons after attending a “falconer’s meet” held by a local falconry association in 2019. A zoology major who joined the Wild Goose Chase team in 2014, Cole said she had grown increasingly interested in raptors on the job, where she spends a lot of time outdoors with the canine team. “I’ve always loved birds, and seeing more and more raptors in the field – it just really piqued my interest,” she said. A falconer she met at the falconry event told her about Wings and Talons and Cole jumped at the opportunity to work directly with birds of prey. She became a volunteer shortly afterward.
Volunteers with Wings and Talons attend classes on the species they will be working with, learning about their health, nutritional and habitat needs, among other topics. Classes are followed by training in bird handling techniques using the protective gauntlets designed for this purpose.
As a volunteer, Cole has been able to feed and exercise the birds and learn more about various enrichment activities to keep the birds happy and healthy. “It’s a really good experience,” Cole said. “I just really like working with them and seeing their behavior.”
A male barred owl at the nature center.
The group’s educational programs are often conducted through local park districts, conventions, schools and scouting programs, with the aim of fostering an understanding and appreciation of the important role raptors play at the top of many food chains. In addition to helping maintain a balance of populations, birds of prey – like the many species of hawks, owls and falcons found in the Midwest – can play a role in monitoring pollution, controlling pests and preventing the spread of disease.
The educational programs and hands-on experiences Wings and Talons provides are a source of wonder and amazement for both children and adults.
The Wild Goose Chase Team: Dedication On Many Levels
At Wild Goose Chase, we are privileged to have a team of bird and wildlife experts whose dedication to their work includes a profound respect and love for all wildlife. We are proud to support the efforts of our team members who volunteer with animal rescue groups, wildlife shelters and other animal welfare organizations across the Midwest.
Their commitment also drives the work we do to help property and business owners solve their wild bird conflicts in a humane, safe and cost-effective way.
To learn more about our biology-led solutions for resolving and preventing bird-related health, safety and property damage issues, give us a call or click on the link below.