And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let the birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
The last Saturday before our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, starts kindergarten, my husband, Danny, and I take her to nearby Amicalola Falls State Park to see the renowned Birds of Prey Show held in the lobby of the main lodge. She is so excited at the prospect of seeing the birds up close and personal, and we are, too. We arrive about an hour early and are impressed by how patiently and happily Virginia waits.
As the time for the show approaches, Danny, camera in hand, makes sure he has a good seat for taking photos. We instruct Virginia to take a seat on the carpet, which is soon flooded by a rush of children who seemingly appear out of nowhere.
The park ranger/bird handler, whose name is Heather, brings in five large black boxes, each one containing a single bird, and places them in front of the stone fireplace. We hear the Barred owl before she removes him from his enclosure. Virginia's eyes light up with recognition as she has heard the same sound in our backyard.
While Heather shows the birds, she describes the singular attributes of each one while we all look on in amazement. I am particularly delighted when she removes owl two from its box, and it is the Great Horned, just like Reverend in my novels! The most interesting fact I learned about this owl is its incredible strength. Heather tells us that if the Great Horned were the size of a human adult, it could kill a black bear and carry the carcass up into a tree. Amazing!
As she prepares to show off owl three, Heather ratchets up the drama. She tells the children that she should be able to handle this fellow though he is the toughest of the bunch. She warns them to cover their heads should he wrestle out of her grasp because he could attack. Here is how Virginia reacts to the news!
Heather feigns a massive struggle with the creature still concealed in its box, and to everyone's delight (and relief) emerges with this:
A teeny, tiny Screech owl! She sure had everyone over a barrel!
The next bird is one of my favorites: The Red-tailed hawk, the character of Scout in The Glade Series. This bird was raised from a fledgling on a farm where there were ducks and chickens. Because of this, the hawk actually learned to quack and demonstrates his unusual skill for the audience.
Last, but certainly not least, Heather presents the vulture.
Whew! Does he ever stink! I posit that it's because the vulture eats dead animals, but we find out otherwise. Vultures actually make a point to defecate on their feet to stay cool. Who would have ever guessed???
When the show ends, Heather allows one more close look at all the birds with the exception of the Great Horned. Here is the one Danny captured with Screechy and Virginia.
Meeting these birds of prey reminds me of the uniqueness and variety of every single creature God has made. I am humbled by the work of His hands. And I am thankful to be a part of this astounding creation which God calls 'good.'
Have you ever attended a wildlife show?
Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your bountiful and beautiful creation in which we live. May we always be respectful of all the plants and animals that share this earth with us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.