Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Favorite Perches

There is no greater honor than to be chosen as a “Favorite Perch” by a CLAWS raptor. The birds definitely have preferences. Whenever possible, those preferences are accommodated so the birds have as enjoyable a time at an event or program as possible.

Anyone who has been to an event and witnessed the total adoration Styx exhibits when Vinny is holding her knows who her preference is! She doesn’t take her eyes off him the entire time and looks at him like he is the greatest thing since freshly killed mice! She’s OK if someone else holds her, but if Vinny is there she watches him the entire time. But if she sees her man holding another bird, she pouts. Yes, owls pout. They squat like a chicken and droop their wings.

Then there is Odo who doesn’t care who you are as long as you have red hair. He’s a bit on the shallow side. If you have red hair, you’re in. When he first came to CLAWS, Kindra’s hair was red, he loved her. Now that she has changed hair color, he doesn’t care for her so much. He is uncooperative about loading and unloading from his crate for her. However, for Gina (who is a redhead) he will step off the glove and walk right into his crate when he is done. The last time he waited until he was sure Kindra was watching before putting himself away.

Which brings us to my all time favorite…Alf. The last fundraising event we had there was a special young girl who wanted to have her picture taken with him. I got her a small raptor glove and transferred him to her hand. If looks could kill, I would have burst into flame on the spot! Being the consummate showman, he looked his normal regal self for the picture. However, when I took him back, the tantrum began! I happened to be wearing the fingerless leather gloves I always wore when holding him. He knew EXACTLY where those gloves ended. In addition to the “look of death” and overachieving owl pout, he sidestepped until he had one foot on my bare finger, then turned it into a vise and clamped down. While not immediately all that painful, after about 15 minutes when your finger is bright red and throbbing and has also been impaled by a couple of talons, with no end in sight, it does become quite uncomfortable. People thought the tears in my eyes were due to the pain, and I had to explain that they were actually caused by the effort it was taking not to burst out laughing at his tantrum. I finally had to put him up for a while so he could get over himself, and so he would let go of my finger!

After his “time-out”, he decided that I had been sufficiently punished, and he was back to his normal worship-worthy self.

Each animal has their own unique personality and quirks. We are very privileged to be able to share in their lives and educate other people about their special place in this world. We thank you for reading our blog and hope you are inspired by the work CLAWS does with the wildlife of North Carolina and the special animals with no other place to go who now call CLAWS their home.

Screech Owl Fanatic

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