The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center has a new mouth to feed: an adult Barred Owl who needs a name!

The RPSEC has special state and federal permits that allow them to have non-releasable, protected birds for educational purposes. The Barred Owl, which arrived in Aiken in April, was the victim of a car strike in Raleigh, North Carolina. After several months of medical treatment and rehabilitation, it was determined that the birdís wing injury has left him permanently disabled and unable to survive in the wild. The raptor rehabilitator then placed the bird with the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center.

The new owl is now undergoing training for educational programs. Because he was in the wild until recently, he must learn to tolerate human proximity and eventually human contact. He will be glove trained, meaning that he must learn to stand still to be jessed, step up, and then stay on hand. He will learn to stay on a bow perch, and how to get in and out of a carrier. He must also get accustomed to having groups of children nearby.

The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center is looking for sponsors to help support the annual cost of feeding and caring for the raptors that are used in its K-12 educational programs. A bird may be adopted by an individual, a business, or a group such as an elementary school class or a scout troop for one year. The sponsorsí names will be recognized in the Centerís publications and website as Friends of the RPSEC.

Because he is new to the RPSEC, the Barred Owl has not yet been named. This yearís sponsor will have an opportunity to name the bird, subject to the RPSECís approval.

Windsor, the Red-Tailed Hawk, is also in need of a sponsor. Windsor was shot by a person, possibly a hunter, sixteen years ago; the wing healed improperly which limits his flight. He has been used in educational programs for many years and actually seems to enjoy being around people.

Silent flight, a curved, hooked beak and sharp, powerful talons are some of the adaptations that enable these nocturnal predators to survive at the top of the food chain. Also known as birds of prey, raptors seize their prey with force and can eat several mice, rats, or other prey items each day. To feed their new resident raptors, the RPSEC will purchase frozen rodents from a local feeder food company. Frozen mice cost $1.30 each, and rats are even more. As you can imagine, feeding these birds is expensive!

Donations are tax deductible; sponsorship opportunities for 2008-2009 are listed on the Adopt an Animal Program website. For more information, please contact Deborah McMurtrie at DeborahMc@usca.edu or (803) 641-2834.

The following birds can be sponsored through the RPSECís Adopt An Animal program:

*Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Non-releasable male, hatched 1992 (Windsor) $1,500
*Barred Owl (Strix varia) Non-releasable male, adult (To be named) $1,200