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International Migratory Bird Day – Community Bird Day Festival at SKC

By Adriana Fehrs

Carlos Rodriguez and his hawk ‘Sweetie Pie’ were a part of the attractions at the International Migratory Bird Day Festival. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  Carlos Rodriguez and his hawk ‘Sweetie Pie’ were a part of the attractions at the International Migratory Bird Day Festival. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

PABLO — The Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theater and the Joe McDonald Health and Athletic Center at the Salish Kootenai College were a bustle with people and birds on May 22. Individuals flocked to the gym and theater to enjoy crafts, documentaries, and live birds.

Whisper Camel-Means says the event was a collaboration between Tribal Wildlife, SKC Natural Resources Department, and the Mission Mountain Chapter of the Audubon Bird Society. It took months of planning; finding relevant vendors proved to be the biggest obstacle. Over 400 people attended the event on Thursday.

Outside the gym Animal Wonders Inc. greeted incomers with their Green Cheeked Conure. Little ones and parents stood in front of the booth to hear Jessi Castaneada talk about the South American bird.

Byran Crow, Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center, showcases a peregrine falcon named ‘The Duke’. The center brought down several live birds for spectator to see at the bird festival that was held at SKC on May 22. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  Byran Crow, Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center, showcases a peregrine falcon named ‘The Duke’. The center brought down several live birds for spectator to see at the bird festival that was held at SKC on May 22. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

The event was a mixture of culture, art, and science; arts and crafts were available for the younger crowd, and informational stands and documentaries for the older crowd. “We wanted to do something fun and educational, that would be appealing to both children and adults,” says Camel-Means.

Over seventeen different stands were set up. The People’s Center set up a stand to share Native American cultural ties to birds; The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s created hummingbird feeders from pipe cleaners with energetic children; Vance Home Gun, from the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee, taught individuals the Salish translations of different birds; and the Audubon Bird Society provided owl pellets – sterile vomit balls- for children to pick through and find bones of mice and shrews and taxidermy birds for ongoers to admire and view.

First place winner of the 2014 International Migratory Bird Day Poster Contest was Aspen McKee from Linderman Elementary. She was awarded her goody bag at the bird day festival at SKC. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  First place winner of the 2014 International Migratory Bird Day Poster Contest was Aspen McKee from Linderman Elementary. She was awarded her goody bag at the bird day festival at SKC. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Steph Gillian, Tribal Wildlife Biologist, helped the younger attendees construct bird masks out of paper plates. Several SKC students painted faces, and constructed window charms that deter birds from flying into house windows and snowy owls from pine cones and cotton balls that would aid birds in making nests.

Different documentaries were showcased at the event; one could learn about sharp-tailed grouse, snow geese, humming birds, or peregrine falcons.

Arguably the most exciting part of the event came from the live birds. The Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center of Kalispell brought down a red tailed hawk named Dun, a peregrine falcon named The Duke, a great horned owl named Bentley, and a saw whet owl named Hootie. Beth Watne, Byran Crow, and Kari Gabriel held the birds while they gave education lectures to the audience.

A great horned owl named Bentley drew quit the crowd on May 22 at the International Migratory Bird Day Festival at SKC. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  A great horned owl named Bentley drew quit the crowd on May 22 at the International Migratory Bird Day Festival at SKC. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

In the gym, Carlos Rodriguez held his goss hawk named Sweetie Pie. Very few children were brave enough to dare to hold the hawk. Carlos says he participates in the sport of ‘falconry’, the hunting of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey, and takes time to educate the community on its origins from the Middle East.

Half way through the event, Camel-Means announced the winners of the third grade poster contest. The reservation wide first place winner was Aspen McKee from Linderman Elementary. Second place was Carlo Morgieau-Baker from Nkwusm, and third place was Alishan Kelly from Pablo Elementary. People’s choice went to Kooper Page from St. Ignatius Elementary School.

See more photos on our Facebook page this weekend.

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