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Lisa M. Sheldon, Guest Columnist

While listening to the radio program, “Outdoors Today,” I learned that we have a raptor recovery center in West Virginia. The center’s Mike Book shared information about our favorite raptors, bald and golden eagles, and also about our less liked raptors, vultures. Raptors also include hawks, owls and falcons. I enjoyed the program so much that I went on their website to learn more.

The West Virginia Raptor Recovery Center is located in Morgantown and operated completely by volunteers. Their work is centered on the care of injured, sick or orphaned birds of prey. The goal is releasing the birds back into the wild after they are well. They are focus on educating the public about these amazing creatures and their importance to the environment.

“The Barn” is where the over 40 volunteers care for the birds that need help. Outside, there are “flight cages,” where the birds can practice their flying before being released. Because the injuries vary, it could take days or weeks for a bird to be ready for release; sometimes, they never are.

As part of the educational aspect of the center, volunteers do programs around the state with the help of permanent residences of “The Barn.” These special birds include Annie, a red-tailed hawk; Bubo, a great horned owl; Orion, a broad-winged hawk; Otus, an Eastern screech owl; and Thunder, a bald eagle. Programs can be adapted for all ages and requested by calling 800-540-6390. This is also the number to call if you find an injured or orphaned raptor.

Raptors are not just beautiful to watch, like the hawk or the national bird, the bald eagle, they are part of the natural cycle of life. Even the ugly turkey vulture has a vital part in nature. He is one of nature’s garbage men.

We need to take the time to learn more about the creatures, so we can know why they are here and how to treat them. As the motto of the Raptor Recovery Center states, “Man is a part of nature, not apart from nature.”

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