MARQUETTE (AP) — The Chocolay Raptor Center is focusing its efforts on raptor education over rehabilitation.
Jerry Maynard founded the center in Chocolay Township in 2012 to help the raptors, or birds of prey, that he said are so important to the ecosystem.
Maynard and his assistant, Bob Jensen, have rehabilitated birds at the center, but now want to emphasize educating the public about raptors’ role in the world, according to The Mining Journal of Marquette.
Educating the public about raptors’ role in the food chain is important, he stressed, which leads to teaching people about related environment issues such as habitat destruction and water quality.
“Education is really the mission,” Maynard said.
Maynard said the center has three permanent birds: Phoenix, a peregrine falcon that hatched in May 2011, the first successful hatching in the nest box at the WE Energies’ Presque Isle Power Plant; Erik a red-tailed hawk; and Sage a great horned owl. Phoenix and Erik already have been used in presentations.
Maynard said the center presented 21 programs in 2013, the last five with live birds, and he has a goal of at least 40 this year. The center is asking for a donation of $150 for each program to cover the costs of food, medications, vet services, gasoline and capital improvements. It costs $1,500 per year to care for a bird, Maynard said.
So far, the fee has been waived for schools. However, Maynard said he plans to approach foundations to sponsor school programs through grants.
Meanwhile, the three center birds are kept at the center in winterized mews covered in plastic, Jensen said.
“As long as you keep the wind out, they’re in pretty good shape,” Jensen said.
Cold affecting their feet is the biggest danger for Phoenix and Erik, he said, so they each have a heated perch. The birds also have heated water dishes.