“Looking an American eagle or great horned owl in the eye is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Laurie Tieman, who manages Wild Birds Unlimited, 5426 Northland Drive.
The store will offer a free live bird show on Saturday, July 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. Famed wild bird rescuer Joe Rogers will bring approximately ten live rescued birds.
“It’s really almost selfish on my part because I love the look on kids’ faces when they see these birds,” Tieman said.
Rogers founded the Wildlife Recovery Association in 1975 and has been rescuing birds since. On his 200-acre farm in Shepherd, Michigan, he helps birds become ready for re-release in the wild.
Those who will never be able to survive wild have a home there for life. It is some of these birds Rogers will bring.
Rogers passion is wildlife research, radio tracking wolves bears and moose. He said that for 20 years his office has been remote campgrounds in the UP miles and miles from the nearest road. He loves to educate. “You can’t really bring a bear or a moose in for a show,” he joked.
The birds are a show-stealer on their own, however. Tieman said children and adults are amazed to see the live creatures so close and there are plenty of photo opportunities, so bring a camera.
Rogers said when his Wildlife Recovery was in its heyday they rehabilitated 800 to 900 birds a year. Now volunteers and funds are harder to come by and he has had to limit the number of birds he can save.
Education is key in limiting the number of birds that need to be saved, he said. The birds he sees have been bumped by cars, but many are the victims of intentional injury.
“Sadly, it seems to me that the first response children have when finding an animal in the wild is to kill it,” he said. He wonders if the violent electronic games kids play make them less compassionate. He also believes youngsters don’t get out in nature like they used to. He hopes seeing and hearing about wildlife will create interest or at least empathy.
Nature is good for us, too, Rogers believes. “It’s not controlled, or directed. Being out in nature is soothing. I don’t know if all the behavior disorders and attention-deficit disorders we see now is related. Are they part of being stressed up and hyped up, being in front of a tv, computer, listening to loud synthetic music?”
Adults, too can learn a thing or two, about the value of nature and animals we share the world with. Studies show that 80 percent of drivers will intentionally hit a rubber snake in the road. Another 70 percent will swerve to hit a rubber turtle.
Wild bird stores have been strong supporters of Rogers’ rescue efforts and generally pay him more than he asks for his shows, because they know money goes to the birds.
Tieman agreed wholeheartedly. She has a passion for wildlife that shows in the bird supplies, bat houses, and wide variety of outdoor animal products the store supplies. Visitors love seeing the in-shop cat and bunny who love each other. Tieman said bringing in educational animals is a treat for her as well as those who come to see them. Wild rescue and animals is a passion. “It’s amazing and I love it.”