Sunday, March 07, 2010

The 7th annual Adams County Bird Symposium*

*I will never do it justice. It's just awesome.

This weekend brought the 7th annual Adams County Bird Symposium, which I have blogged about here. It's probably the most unusual symposium I've attended, smack dab in the middle of Amish country.

As usual, I picked up my birds the night before and stayed at a hotel near the event. I usually enjoy this time to myself, to hang with the birds, watch TV and listen to the woodcocks in the field behind the hotel. Now, I don't know if it was the change of seasons, the sodium levels in the McDonald's food, or the bleach odor coming from the pillow cases and sheets....but I got a migraine. A migraine that kept me awake all night long.
Six o'clock rolled into view and I was able to make it to an open gas station for ibuprofen. I'm not trying to whine about this but to set the stage. I performed my RAPTOR duties with NO SLEEP.
The closest Starbucks is an hour away from the event.
Thankfully, I had previously set up a coffee rendezvous, in the form of Les, my Yoda (this post and this post).

Les came blowing into town with his "winning" personality (first thing he said to me was "What's up, dork?") and a bucketful of Starbucks coffee for me. thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou

This revved my engine enough for the day to begin.

Vendors at the symposium range from Ann Geise, artist and field naturalist, to Ron Austing to the Ohio Ornithological Society to some Amish folks selling Leica optics.

I have to say that my little RAPTOR table was pretty popular. Every break brought huge crowds back to my corner to photograph the birds, ask questions and general oohing and ahhing.

Lucy Sweet Tweets
Didn't realize that part of the Amish birdhouse/garden art table was in this shot.
I think the "Sweet Tweets" thing was a bench. Cute, huh?

This was Storm's second annual appearance at the symposium, since he's a local boy.
(He was found there in 2007,just a few miles from where the event is held)
He spent a good bit of time on the floor, instead of his perch (he hates perches)...

...and at one point, he fell asleep:
Go to this post to read about Storm's "Golden T".

Storm on carrier
He also spent a lot time on TOP of his carrier, which is unusual.
I don't usually let the birds sit there, but it made him happy and kept him from
a. Being underfoot and attacking my shins, and
b. Jumping around and irritating his legs by yanking on his jesses.

Thirteen the Screech Owl did his best Animatronic impression, to the delight of the crowd:
I am always careful to bring birds that will be a good fit for the venue where we will be presenting. A large, quiet room is a good place to bring our Red-tailed Hawks, our Barred Owl and Kestrels or Earl the Turkey Vulture, while a noisy, constantly moving crowd would suit Lucy and the rest of our owls.
Part of being an animal presenter is knowing the limits of your animal. This was a noisy crowd with an overnight stay involved.
I overnighted our Red-tails once.
That won't be happening again.

But I can't stand it anymore and have to tell you about the day's highlight.

I was holding Lucy the Peregrine Falcon and answering questions during a break. My energy was flagging and I wondered how I would be able to stay awake for the rest of the afternoon.
(I vaguely remember Les calling me "a Princess", but I didn't smack him because
a. I didn't have the energy, and
b. He brought me coffee so I owed him my soul.)

Out of the crowd a man appears and asks if I would bring Lucy up during his talk.
I looked up at him...and it was Thane Maynard.

Being from Cincinnati, I was born knowing who he was, but if you don't know, here's a quickie bio:
He is the director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
He does a daily show on NPR called "The Ninety-Second Naturalist".
He has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, CBS This Morning, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
He has co-authored a book with Jane Goodall.

Okay? He's kind of a big deal.

I knew he was going to be a speaker, and I was in full-on Geek-Out mode, but when he just materialized, I felt my knees go a little weak.
He knew Lucy's name and how she came to be at RAPTOR. I don't know how he knew that.
So he wanted me to bring Lucy up during his talk about conservation success stories, etc.

I tried to be cool as I said, "Sure. I'd love to."

After he walked away, I looked around at some of my friends near the table and the squealing began.

I somehow got through those two minutes of standing up there with him. My face was on FIRE and my voice was shaky, but everyone said I did okay.

So, anyhoo: Here's a photo of me, Lucy and Thane Maynard!!
Me n Thane2
(Photo by my awesome sister-in-law Rachel, who was as geeked out as I was)


Tricia said...

I was in the audience and Susan did much better than okay, there was no perceptible shaking of knees or voice. She told us all about Lucy's history and how she came to be at Raptor, even having Lucy spread her wings for us at the right moment to show us why she is an education bird and not a potential release. It was impressive to say the least!

Rachel said...

I second what Tricia said - you were great!

Lester said...

You did a fantastic job....for a dork : )

Beth said...

Sorry about the migraine, but Thane Freakin' Maynard!!! Way to go!

word verification: standed - as in "you standed next to Thane Freakin' Maynard!"

RuthieJ said...

Sounds like it was a really fun event Susan.
P.S. Lucy is so beautiful!

KatDoc said...

Freakin' A - as in "AWEsome!" So happy for you, and so bummed I couldn't be there.

dguzman said...

Thane Freakin' Maynard -- all right! You're such a celeb!

Mel said...

Hi Susan!
That's so cool!!
And I know YOU! (virtually, hehe)
Awesome :)

Julie said...

You did a great job, both at the booth and with Thayne. I was standing around your both for awhile listening while the same several questions were asked over and over. Each time you answered them enthusiastically, as though it were the first time you were asked the question.

Mary said...

Susan, there's no doubt that you had your groove on.

I'm so proud of you!