When Bill Robinson donned his leather glove and brought his birds out of their cages for the children at Byram Shubert Library, they were awestruck, pointing and squealing in delight. Even as his turkey vulture spread its wings wide and an owl ate a frozen mouse whole.
"I liked all of it," said Anthony Hill, a young boy who just moved to the area and was planning to check out some books on hawks after the presentation. "The part I liked most was the part about the falcon and how it ate the mouse."
Robinson let his trained falcon loose in the community room Monday and it flew through the aisle of children, who gasped and wriggled in their seats, despite Robinson's warnings to stay calm. The falcon tore apart a frozen mouse Robinson had brought to demonstrate the ways different birds eat their prey.
While the falcon was messy with his meal, the owl swallowed the mouse whole. "And there's no mess to clean up," joked Robinson, a professor at SUNY New Paltz and founder of the New York State Falconry Association. He and his son run Robinson's Wildlife Lectures, bringing tamed predators to schools and libraries to teach young people about wild animals right in their backyards.
He brought out a red-tailed hawk, the most common hawk in the area, as well as a turkey vulture he had raised from a baby, "Now he thinks I'm his mate," said Robinson, to which the kids laughed.
In addition to letting kids see wild creatures up close, the "Birds of Prey" lecture aims to interest them in learning more through books at the library.
Clearly, it was a hit. "I can't wait to go next year!" said Hill when the show was over.
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