by BETH ALTENA Joe Rogers considered the cliffs of Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula his office for over 20 years, and in that time he has listened to the howls of wolves in the blackness of night and seen eagles hatch and fledge. This semester he brought some of that wildness to Rockford with a visit to Crestwood Elementary School where he told the students tales of the injured animals he uses for educational purposes. Rogers, who along with wife Barb, brought from carrying cases a variety of birds who have been injured beyond rehabilitation to a life in the wild. To a wide-eyed audience he explained how some injuries occurred—some accidental, some through human bad behavior. Mostly he described the unique qualities of the birds he cares for. “Do you know how to spot a mouse from up in the air, catch it with your toes and eat it whole?” he asked one student. “She does,” he stated, pointing to one of the teachers. Rogers told kids how birds like owls swallow their food complete to keep any insects away from their feathers. They then spit out a “pellet” of bones and other indigestible parts of rodent or other prey. Rogers Wildlife Recovery Association has been researching and rehabilitating wild animals since 1974. The “living animal’ wildlife presentations are models for other organizations and are a great hit for children and adults. Rogers believes wildlife and people can only coexist through a greater understanding of wildlife by people. “Many of the problems concerning wildlife are not fully understood,” Rogers stated. “Our work in rehabilitation offers unique and almost endless opportunities for scientific research to better understand our wildlife.” In addition to raptors, such as hawks, owls, falcons and eagles, the Wildlife Recovery Association has cared for cougar, bear, bobcats, coyote and more. In cooperation with state and federal law enforcement agencies, the organization has held animals as evidence during legal proceedings. Rogers has a unique, fast-paced presentation that keeps youngsters and adults in attendance paying attention and guessing what’s coming next. He brought a chicken to Crestwood so kids could feel and see a bird with plumage similar to that of a baby turkey vulture. An adult turkey vulture showed the strength of […]
Students at Crestwood Elementary were riveted by the wild bird show put on by Joe Rogers of the Wildlife Recovery Association. They learned that loons are not closely related to ducks but are related to penguins. Students had many questions about the owls, hawks and turkey vulture they were able to see as well as a pigeon and chicken they were able to pet. The visit was paid for by a donation to the wildlife program by the family of Lance Urbanski, a student at the school. The Wildlife Recovery Association is a non-profit 501c3.
“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 […]