SPC Students Renovate Raptor Enclosures

Penelope the bald eagle was just a fledgling when she suffered a shoulder injury that caused a wing droop that rendered her unable to live in the wild. She was found and treated, and today she’s five years old and living at the Moccasin Lake Nature Center in Clearwater. A group of SPC students and staff from multiple campuses spent a lovely Friday morning participating in a Volunteer Day on Friday, February 9 at Moccasin Lake, where they helped the Audubon Society renovate five raptor enclosures.

In addition to Penelope, Moccasin Lake is home to several raptors, including red-tailed hawks, screech owls, a barn owl, great horned owls, a bald eagle, black vultures and others. After leveling the dirt on the bottom of the enclosures, volunteers brought in pea gravel to place on top of the dirt. Barb Walker, an Audubon Society volunteer, said the group’s efforts will increase the comfort and well being of the raptors.

“The gravel keeps the people and all the birds healthier,” Walker said. “Their feet are nice and clean, not dirty.  When they drop food, sand is not stuck to it and fewer bugs and mites live in pea gravel. The enclosures are also easier to maintain and more visually appealing.”

After each enclosure was finished, the bird was placed back inside their renovated home.  Natural Science Faculty Member Kellie Stickrath said it was a fun day for all, and also very rewarding to help these injured birds of prey, who can never be released back into the wild due to the nature of their injuries.

“The birds seemed to love their new enclosures,” Stickrath said. “For me, it was a magical experience because I was not only able to work with great people side-by-side to help these beautiful birds, but also to get so close to such an amazing animal like the eagle was worth all of the hard work.”

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