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Fernald, Raptors, Radiation, and Gender Confusion

Dear Kid,

Sunday, Dad and I headed west. Not far west, just west enough to go to Fernald Preserve (which used to be Fernald Nuclear Weapons and Site Contamination Plant) to see a presentation by Raptor Inc.

Back in the day (and by “day” I mean 1951 to 1989), Fernald was a uranium processing facility. In 1984, the plant came under a wee bit of criticism (and by “wee bit” I mean the proverbial doo doo hit the proverbial fan) because the plant had been busy releasing radioactive uranium dust into the atmosphere. Cue environmental outrage and multi-headed ducks. Fast forward through stuff your father finds fascinating and me not so much, and the entire 1,050 acre area is a Nature Preserve (and Superfund site).

Snoopy, the world’s most famous vulture.

Sunday, Raptor Inc held a Standing Room Only event at Fernald. While I met some glorious birds, Dad went through the museum and Learned All the History. We both felt we’d spent our time well.

While I wasn’t personally introduced (because A) there were zillions of people in attendance and B) these are wild birds who prefer to stay on highly formal terms), I got to admire several raptors.

The first was Ollie, the Great Horned Owl. He is perfectly fine as far as physical abilities, but he seems (according to the experts) a few cards shy of a deck.

The second bird they brought out was Storm, a Barn Owl who lost a wing in 2007. Storm is loud, which is to say it sounded like someone was being murdered as he was brought out. This is (apparently) how he greets all audiences. I don’t speak owl (I only speak Puppy), so I can’t say whether he was happily announcing his presence or suggesting we all go home.

After that came Wildwood, a Red Shouldered Hawk, who puffed himself up to show that even though he was held by a human, he’s still a big ‘ol dude who Is To Be Reckoned With. He has an injured wing and can’t be released. That did not at all impact his ability to glare which he did extremely well.

The final raptor of the day wasn’t. Wasn’t a raptor that is. The finale was Earl the Turkey Vulture. Earl was raised (illegally) by humans and is convinced that she (yep, she’s a she) is a person. She imprinted on her humans and has no idea how to be a Turkey Vulture. Originally, Earl was thought to be male (the coloring for TVs is the same for both genders). Then one day she laid an egg. Voila! Gender reassignment. So Earl the Girl is now a show girl, spreading her wings for audiences to appreciate.

All in all a lovely outing.

Love, Mom

This post first appeared on Dear Kid Love Mom, please read the originial post: here

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Fernald, Raptors, Radiation, and Gender Confusion


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