When you stop by our Raptor Exhibit to visit Sky Walker, our resident Red-tailed Hawk, you’ll notice a new installation. That’s our Wingspan Display, designed to give people another tangible way of getting to know the world of raptors! From day one, it has proven to be a successful and engaging addition to the Center.
Wingspan Display Promotes Raptor Program
The inspiration for this project is a similar display at the Wisconsin State Fair’s We Energies Energy Park, where our Raptor Program spends the duration of the fair engaging the public with our birds and other activities. The popularity of a wingspan display here led us to envision adding one to the Center. A grant from International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators made it a reality.
Our new Wingspan Display features four Raptor species: a Bald Eagle, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Peregrine Falcon, and a Screech Owl. Each of these species is a part of our Raptor Program. People become curious about the birds and often look for information on their own, as well as learning more from our Raptor Program volunteers. It allows visitors another way to connect with the Center’s Raptor Program, with nature, and with wildness. It also familiarizes people with local bird species.
Some of the Exhibit’s most frequent visitors are the Center’s preschool students. To accommodate them, we built and installed a step-up, booster bench. Even the smallest students are able to interact with the display!
New Ways for Children and Families to Connect
When families visit the exhibit, they often compare themselves to each of the species. “I remember when you were just a Peregrine Falcon!” an awestruck parent might say about the growth of their child. This activity builds a bridge between the Center’s members and families, the Raptors, and the future of the bird species represented.
During a recent visit with one of our preschool classes, students eagerly jumped up to the bird silhouettes while their classmates excitedly shouted out which bird they compared to in size. This activity inspired even more questions by the students, such as “How fast does a Screech Owl fly?” “How much does an Eagle weigh?” and “What does a Red-tailed Hawk eat?”
By simply comparing the size of their arms to the display bird’s wing size, the children quickly became familiar with the birds and wanted to learn more about them. We anticipate that people engaging with the Wingspan Display will become a tradition for some of our visitors. Imagine a visiting child asking, “Will Dad ever be as big as a Bald Eagle?”