Todd Glazebrook, Senior Trainer in the Bird Department at SeaWorld San Diego, reports on his time spent learning from staff at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida. Read his second report below:
It has been my great pleasure to represent the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund as an ambassador in our partnership with the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey over the past two weeks. The time has flown by and yet I cannot remember what it was like to not feel personally connected to this place and the impact it makes. This week I was completely immersed in the business of the center, helping in the clinic with critical care birds as well as shadowing educational presentations, learning how to handle permanent collection birds, and working with the staff and volunteers to do maintenance projects and build needed equipment. The dedicated staff and amazing volunteers are an inspiration and a compelling reminder of what people can do when they truly care.
One of my favorite experiences has been following the case of and injured eagle from intake to flight enclosure. I was fortunate to hold a young male Bald Eagle upon intake to the clinic. This bird has physical damage from being shot, including fragments of ammunition still visible on x-ray in his wing. He is one of the lucky ones because he has a fighting chance to recover and be released with the excellent care he is receiving right now at the center. Moving this bird from the clinic to a recovery flight was a highlight for me since I was able to be a part of his recovery and watch him exercise his wings as the next step in his rehabilitation. I invite everyone to participate by watching this eagle or others like him on the web cam.
Finally, late this week, I was able to follow some volunteers as they checked an active eagle nest in a suburban neighborhood north of town. It was then that I really understood the far reaching influence of the center and the good people of Audubon. We came upon a nest extremely close to homes where the residents see the eagles as a point of pride, a relationship fostered by the kind education of a team of well managed volunteers. The nest in question is perennially active but was empty as we talked to neighbors about the birds. As dusk settled, imagine how thrilled I was to witness the return of a beautiful female Bald Eagle to the nest with a stick in her talons for a bit of home improvement. She tended to the nest a moment and then flew off to a roosting perch and called loudly, letting everyone know she belonged there. This experience really summed up my impression of the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. Their mission is simple and effective…protect the wild birds of Florida and beyond. I am a part of that mission too.
– Todd Glazebrook, Senior Trainer, Bird Dept. SeaWorld San Diego