After an early morning meeting, I was totally exhausted by the time the naturalist class started. But I didn’t want to miss Hillary Kasemen from West Coast Falconry and her talk on falcons.
She brought with her “Cubby”, a male Anatum Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) a subspecies of Peregrine Falcon also called an American Peregrine, “Aerial”, a female American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) and “Islay”, a female Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus).
We learned, among other things, that because they fly so fast (up to 200 mph in a dive) falcons have an exaggerated tubule in the nose to help channel air so they can breathe better. Jet engines are made with the same kind of “baffle” (nose cone) in the center. “This example of biomimicry is very retrospective in that engines weren’t first designed this way.” Nature never ceases to amaze.
And we also learned that the hoods often used in falconry help to calm the birds. Falcons take a lot of information in through their eyes, and can get visually over-stimulated at times. Put a hood or other covering over the eyes helps to cancel out some of that stimuli.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos and some video snippets. #CalNat
Some students asked why we have presentations like this during the naturalist classes, and the reason is two-fold: (1) we want to introduce students to live specimens of species they might not otherwise encounter, and (2) we want to provide students who capstone ideas and volunteer opportunities.
The naturalist class went very well again today. Roxanne, our volunteer couldn’t come, but co-workers Nate and Bill did all the heavy-lifting so I didn’t have to rearrange furniture to get the room set up and taken down again. I so appreciate their help and support.
Nate had brought our spokesbears, Berry and her cub Essa [as in “Berryessa”] so the class could meet them. Berry goes to our tabling events, and Essa goes with Nate on most of our hikes and outings. They make for great conversation starters and photo ops. Nate had also purchased some home-made cookies from the local Cookie connection shop to share with the class.
Our guest speaker for the afternoon was Kate Marden, the owner and founder of West Coast Falconry, who brought along four owls to share with the class. Some of her birds have been featured in movies and documentaries. She brought: a male Great Horned Owl named Tigg’rr (because these owls are also known as “Tiger Owls” for the barring on their chest and belly); a female Barn Owl named Amadan. Her whole name is Amadan Ban Bheag, which is Gaelic for ‘Little White Fool’. A female Eurasian Eagle Owl named Cailleach (pronounced Kay-leesh). Her name means ‘Wise Woman’ or ‘Crone’ in Gaelic; and a male, gray morph Eastern Screech Owl named Wee Hamish. He was very afraid of Berry, so I had to carry her out of sight behind the projection screen, and all the while Hamish was watching me with his eyes real wide. He was also something of a bad boy. As Kate was lifting him out of his carrier she realized he’d chewed off and swallowed one of his jesses. Hah!
Kate was wonderful, as usual. Her talk was very heartfelt and informative, and she walked around the room with the birds so the students could get a close look at them and take photos if they wanted to. We always love having West Coast Falconry come out for a lecture.
CLICK HERE to see the album of photos and video snippets.
You can see a longer video of Kate and Cailleach here: https://youtu.be/0jEc7gIqiJk
You can see a longer video of Kate and Tigg’rr here: https://youtu.be/n1Uk1B9UviA