Photo courtesy of Burnie Schultz
Patricia Garcia from the Bird Treatment and Learning Center holds “Jasper” a Rough-Legged Hawk at the Portage Valley Learning Center.
By David Butler
Special to the Turnagain Times
Looking for something to do with your Sunday afternoons? Do you have kids that are fascinated with birds, especially raptors? If you have answered yes to either one of these questions then we have just the opportunity for you.
The U.S. Forest Service has teamed up with the Bird Treatment & Learning Center (BTLC) of Anchorage for an exciting presentation series about the birds of Alaska held in the Portage Valley Learning Center every Sunday at 2 p.m. through April 25. The Bird Treatment & Learning Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating sick, injured or orphaned wild birds and providing avian education programs to the public. Dr. James R. Scott, an Anchorage veterinarian, now retired, founded Bird TLC in 1988. Dr. Scott forged a path for current Alaskan veterinarians and volunteers, who now follow in his footsteps by donating their time to treat these birds in need. In addition to medical care, Bird TLC provides a variety of educational programs to increase people's awareness of the wild birds around them and to encourage preservation of their habitat.
The primary goal of rehabilitation is to allow the sick or injured bird to recover and return to its normal life in the wild. The BTLC is successful in releasing roughly 50 percent of the birds that arrive. Because a bird must function at 100 percent to compete for a living in the wild, some remain not releasable even though in stable condition. Those birds can be placed in licensed educational programs and sanctuaries throughout the country or can become part of the education program, becoming ambassadors for their species to the general public.
A different handler and bird from the BTLC will present each weekend giving visitors a chance to experience the diversity of birds Alaska has to offer. Handlers have years of personal experience working with these birds, and offer insights gained only by years of one-on-one interaction with the birds. Some handlers also bring books and other resources about their specific birds to encourage further learning about these amazing creatures of flight. It is also to be noted that anyone planning to visit on April 18 will see a different bird than originally scheduled. An Osprey named “Phoenix” was on the original roster, but with much regret the BTLC reports that Phoenix has passed away. A Peregrine Falcon named “Maverick” will be showcased as a substitute.
The Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is open this winter on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are no fees for the exhibits or movie during our winter hours. So come on out and learn about the birds of Alaska and take in the award winning exhibits and film “Voices from the Ice.”