On a rather cold and rainy Saturday earlier this month we headed over to the Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County. They have a first Saturday of the month open house for visitors to come and meet the birds and learn about them. The Center is supported by donations from the public and a devoted crew of trained volunteers. Did you read about how they evacuated their entire bird population during the notorious Tubbs fire that was raging down the mountain toward them last October? Luckily the Center did not burn and the bird inhabitants were returned to their home unscathed. Many of them cannot be returned to the wild and this has become their permanent home.
fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ spiral Field Watercolor Journal by Hand Book
When it got drizzly outside, the taxidermy display inside came in handy with the lovely barn owl spreading its wings. Barn Owls are particularly difficult to draw because of their unusual disc shaped face, but oh so lovely!
Then out to the yard where the docents/handlers were holding the birds and answering questions.
Pisces is an Osprey with a broken wing.
The volunteers were dressed for the weather and the birds were of course unconcerned when it started to rain again. Even I would have been unconcerned because a few drops of water dissolve the watercolor paint in the most appealing way. At some point it did however make for a bit of an aborted sketch!
Each time I go to the Open House I learn something new, like the meaning of “bracelets” and “gape”.
This raptor’s name is Star and judging by the color of the tail, must be a Red Tailed hawk. I have dreamed of being a volunteer here but wondered how one can stand for a half hour-hour with the weight of these large birds on the wrist? Star however was light weight at a bit over three pounds.
Every once in a while one is treated to an outspreading of wings that lasts only seconds. I caught this one on video and was so struck by the pose of bird and handler here that I had to sketch it later. One might be tempted to romanticize this relationship. When you are treated to this up-close-and-personal display, it is abundantly clear that the humans care very much for the birds, whose habits and idiosyncracies they have learned over the years. Even if the birds don’t have the instinctual equipment to reciprocate with tenderness, they are clearly well cared for and honored for their wild natures.