It’s time to look back on 2019! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2019 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
I feel like one of my most outstanding memories should be all I learned during my training to handle Grayson the Broad-winged Hawk. Handling an ambassador bird who needs to develop trust with the handler is a very different process than grabbing a bird up for medical exams or release. Besides learning the falconer’s knot and proper placement of swivels and other equipment for safety, the handler needs to pay very close attention to the bird and learn what different cues a particular bird displays that indicate stress, boredom, or contentment. It is rather daunting when first learning and trying to remember all this and focus on your audience while doing so. But so rewarding!
Having said that, my favorite memory comes from a little boy who was in one of my open house tour groups. He was about six years old. His parents brought him from Richmond; apparently they had watched Maggie the Peregrine Falcon’s nest through the DGIF Falcon Cam. The little boy was so excited to meet Maggie. He kept asking me, "When are we going to see Maggie?" (Maggie is one of the last four ambassadors we meet). When we finally got to Maggie's enclosure, he was literally jumping with joy. I asked him if HE could tell the group about Peregrine Falcons and about Maggie. And he did! He also held up Maggie's book to her enclosure so she could see he had his Maggie book with him. This memory still makes me smile.
Then there was a time an older gentleman was in one of my groups. When visiting Buttercup and talking about how cool vultures are and all the amazing facts about them, and what they do for our environment, he told me he had seen "buzzards" (as he calls all vultures) all his life but never knew all this about them. Later, he went back for a special visit with Buttercup and said "I never knew all these things about you. You are a good ole buzzard just like me".
I always get back much more than I give!
-- Lydia Price, Outreach Docent Volunteer