Wildlife comes to Woodland

Birds, not the most interesting subject to be lectured on. However, today the topic was brought to life in a more fascinating way in front of the eyes of the freshman class.

Erin O’ Connell has been working at the Sharon Audubon Center since 2007 as a wildlife rehabilitator and looks after the hundreds of birds that cross her path. Along with O’Connell, one of Woodland’s own science teachers, Ross Cooper, also volunteers at the Audubon center and asked O’Connell to come teach the freshman class about the taloned, winged creatures. Luckily, O’Connell did not just come herself, but brought some friends as well. In four cages, in a variety of sizes, she carried four birds.

By far the most adorable, with a sassy attitude much larger than herself was the whet owl.  She was the first to be taken out and bathed in the attention as the crowd fawned over her. Her reason for being at Audubon is that she was unable to fly and unfortunately will never be able to leave the facility. Next to be pulled out was an American Kestrel. This quirky bird tried to jump off O’Connell’s hand several times with the wish to fly. He was quick and stealthy but he could never live on his own since he was taken in as a pet as a baby. The next bird was by far the most beautiful, and majestic. The grey horned owl sat calmly with bright eyes the size of oranges. He too would never be able to fly with a missing wing. The last bird was by the most high strung and frightening. The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest mammal alive, but his broken wing would never allow him to soar high again.

But before all the fun, O’Connell shared some information that was not as enjoyable. Students stared in shock as images of sick, injured, and even dead animals that were caused by human products flashed across a large screen in the front of the auditorium. The images were not meant to scare the students, but to encourage them to stand up and help protect these animals.

“The whole point of this particular program was to at least have you guys, the students, to think about our everyday lives,” said O’Connell. “And [to think about] how the things we take for granted actually impact something outside of our little bubble.”