By Stuart Thornton, National Geographic
On the main stage at the BioBlitz Biodiversity Festival, Jenny Papka of Native Bird Connections has the full crowd in the palm of her hand. She showcases three birds of prey during her “Raptors: The Reality Show” presentation.
Papka begins by showing the crowd a live American kestrel—a bird she calls the “F-14 fighter of the raptor world.”
Next up is a striking snow-white red-tailed hawk. This hawk is leucistic, which means its light coloring is a result of reduced pigmentation. While Papka holds the hawk, she shares interesting some facts about raptors.
“Birds don’t sweat like we do,” she says. “They pant like a dog.”
There is an audible gasp in the audience when the star of the show, a Eurasian eagle owl, is brought out of its cage.
“She weighs about five pounds,” Papka says. “This bird can carry off three times its body weight in prey.”
Margot Latham and Ian Plymale, two four year-olds in the audience, were clearly amazed by the raptors. Latham was most impressed by the Eurasian eagle owl, but not because of its size. “I was happy,” she says, “because it had orange eyes.”