Wings Over Wine Country

Screech_Owl_Pignoli_Wildlife_Center_VirginiaThe Wildlife Center of Virginia had literally flown under my radar until recently. Via social media, my attention was called to the fundraiser “Wings Over Wine Country”.  Combining a love of wine and the beauty of the powerful raptors, Bill Sykes, Outreach Ambassador, brings the birds out to the wineries to promote interest and encourage contributions to the wildlife center. Prince Michel Winery and DuCard Vineyards have already played host to the charity this year.

As a child in Germany, we lived near a falconry and observed the Peregrine Falcons in action, hunting for food. The image has been imprinted in my brain for ages  and seeing these remarkable birds brought the whole experience back to life. Through friends, we were able to tour  one of the world’s leading teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine. Bill (Sykes) guided us through the 5,700-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. It is fully equipped with gas anesthesia, critical care equipment, surgery, radiographic and fluoroscopic equipment, laboratory facilities, inside and outside holding areas, and flight cages. At any time there may be from 80 to 250 animals on the premises.

Treatment and Triage

Later we headed  outdoors to meet some of these amazing bird. The rehabilitation center cares for thousands of injured native wildlife. Animals unable to be released back into the wild can become educational animals or “Ambassadors” for the center.  starting with the diminutive Pignoli, the Eastern Screech Owl. She is pictured at the top of the page, showing us her one good eye and her striking russet colors.

Junior Golden Eagle Junior, the Golden Eagle, was very engaging and hopped over to a perch to greet us.  Junior will join Wildlife Center President and Co-Founder Ed Clark at Pollak Vineyards in Greenwood, Virginia for a very special event to benefit the Wildlife Center of Virginia on April 7th from 5-7 p.m. Tickets to this event are available through Pollak Vineyards for $25 per person.  Pollak Vineyards will donate $15 of every admission to the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Grayson Broad Winged HawkGrayson is a fiercely beautiful Broad Winged Hawk  and regularly accompanies Bill on outings to the wineries and breweries.  She is one of the patients that was unable to be released back into the wild.  These rehabilitated  birds can become educational animals or “Ambassadors” for the center.

The program “Caring fo Critters” is a great way to educate children not only about the center, but how we as human beings impact wildlife in even small ways. Through this program, you can sponsor an animal and as part of the adoption packet you will receive:

  • The sponsored animal’s biography
  • A photo of the animal
  • Detailed information about the characteristic of the animal’s species, and
  • A personalized certificate of sponsorship

Several events have been scheduled this year so there will be many opportunities to learn about the animals and birds that have been rehabilitated at the center.

Wings Over Wine Country & Kickoff of National Parks Week Sunday, April 22, 2012, 2-6 PM Bill Sykes from the Virginia Wildlife Center will be here with live raptors –  hawks, owls and other ‘ambassadors’ and talk about their efforts to rehabilitate injured wildlife in Virginia.  There’s no charge for visiting the Shenandoah National Park during this Week, so it’ll be a great day to take a hike too.  Contributions welcome, with matching by DuCard.

Special thanks to Paulette Musselman for introducing me to Bill and of course, to Bill Sykes for the time he shared with us and his passion for these amazing birds.

Bill and Pignoli

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