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Bird TLC

I am starting a new project, and I am super excited about it! So excited, in fact, that I’m writing all about it in my blog before I’ve even gone anywhere with it. :)

A snowy owl at Bird TLCThere’s an organization in Anchorage that serves as a free veterinarian for wild birds. Part of their mission is also to educate people and to advocate for these birds, as well. It’s called “Bird Treatment & Learning Center,” or “Bird TLC.” As part of Bird TLC’s education efforts, volunteers can sign up to bring live birds to places (examples I’ve seen: libraries and schools, First Friday art events, “Owl-O-Ween” at a local brewpub, the Alaska State Fair) and talk about them. Sometimes they’re very organized presentations, but sometimes the volunteer and the bird just kind of hang out, and people ask questions. Sometimes, it’s just one volunteer and one bird, and other times there are a whole group of people and birds.

It’s a pretty cool thing, and they’re having their next orientation session next week. I am signed up and ready to go!

The steps, as I understand it, are: 1) Go to this orientation, 1.5) Get a tetanus booster, 2) Start training with another volunteer and a bird, 3) Get certified to work with that bird, 4) Go teach people about how awesome the bird is!

Some people get very into it, certifying with multiple birds or building a mew so that they can house a bird (I’m interested in that, though I believe there are additional steps, such as a certification from Fish & Wildlife). I do know you have to have been certified on at least one raptor (and worked with it often) for at least five years before you can start the process of certifying with a bald eagle. Makes sense: those guys are huge! (I’m not so interested in that. I’m really hoping to work with corvids—ravens, crows, magpies, Steller’s jays—or else [on the opposite end of the intelligence spectrum] owls. Preferably small owls, though.)

And a really great part of this whole thing is, since I’ll be using librarian skills (teaching, reference, research*), I get to do at least some of this on work time and count it as community service toward tenure!

You guys!! I am so excited!!

(You might wonder why I haven’t already done this, because it’s very obviously related to my interests and will at least indirectly help my career. Mostly, it was because we were a one-car household, and to be a bird presenter you need to agree to 12 presentations a year. I couldn’t have managed that until we got a second car. Also, there was a while there when I had more professional service commitments than I could keep up with—and on paper I probably still do, but I feel like I’ve got a better handle on it all.)

* They’ve promised to contact me if they get a bird in that they know nothing about. I’ll do a bunch of research for them, so they can try to make/keep it happy and healthy.

Published inbirdssciencetalks

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