Raptor Patients Receive a Helping Hand From Brownsville Elementary First-graders

The Wildlife Center had some extra help caring for wild raptors this fall thanks to a dedicated group of students from Crozet, Virginia. Erica McLaughlin — a first-grade teacher at Brownsville Elementary — volunteers with the Center’s veterinary staff on weekends. Through her volunteer work, Erica knew that the Center’s supply of tail guards for Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle patients was in need of restocking.

When raptors are admitted to the Wildlife Center, they often require an extended stay in the indoor treatment clinic. This means they may be housed in crates or small enclosures while they heal. During this time, the veterinary team apply tail guards to the birds' tails — a stiff plastic cover that prevents breakage in the tail feathers.

During the week of October 2, students in Ms. McLaughlin’s class traced, cut, labeled, and taped nearly two dozen tail guards made especially for Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles in need. During the project, students spent time learning about Virginia’s native raptor species, watched Buddy the Bald Eagle’s live stream on the Critter Cams, and had a classroom viewing of Rosalie the Red-tailed Hawk’s special video on the Center’s YouTube channel.

Learning more about the education ambassadors that live at the Center made quite an impact on the students; in addition to donating hand-made tail guards for recovering patients, students crafted personalized letters and drawings addressed to Buddy and Rosalie!

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is incredibly grateful to the students at Brownsville Elementary. Their thoughtfulness and proactive approach to helping wildlife is proof that “taking action” to care for and care about wildlife and the environment takes many forms – a lesson that all of us can learn and share!

Teachers and educators looking for more information about how to involve their students in the Center’s work can learn more by visiting the Public Programs section of our website, or by contacting a Wildlife Center educator at edu@wildlifecenter.org