Get a close-up view of hawks and owls as you learn about their habits

To the Editor:

Birds of prey live fragile, often misunderstood, lives in our forest and fields.  They are frequently seen slowly circling high above in the bright summer sky, catching the thermals that help keep them aloft. From afar, they look rather dark and drab, and their contribution to the environment is obscure.  

Beautiful and remarkably adapted to survive, these powerful birds play an important role in our environment and ecology.  Professional biologist and a licensed falconer, Mike Gaylo, the director of Hawks, Owls & Wildlife, will visit the children’s tent at Berne’s Summerfest, bringing with him various live birds of prey for display. 

Late summer is when many birds of prey molt. They lose their feathers before re-growing new ones.  Handling during this period can easily damage the erupting feathers.   Mike will bring only those birds safely beyond that fragile period. 

Likely, based on his past experience with the birds, he will have a great horned owl, a peregrine falcon, a barn or barred owl, and possibly a kestrel. 

Mike will work to dispel many of the myths surrounding their existence.  He’ll discuss the difference between a hawk and an owl, their habitats and food sources.   He’ll explain the anatomical features that allow an owl to hunt silently, at night, and how they expel the undigested remains of animals.  All the while, the birds will be on display so those features can be readily examined, close up.

A member of the Raptor Research Foundation, Mike has more than 35 years of experience working with birds of prey.  The importance of raptor conservation to farmers, and ultimately everyone, will be discussed.   Opportunities to aid in their conservation will be presented. 

Most importantly, Mike will provide us with a better understanding of the lives of these magnificent creatures.

This is a unique opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close.   Please join Mike at 2 p.m. in the children’s tent at Berne’s Summerfest on Saturday, Aug. 23, for an unforgettable learning experience.

Karen Schimmer

Editor’s note: Karen Schimmer is a member of the Berne Town Board who chairs Summerfest.

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