On April 24, we had a visit from Nina Fischesser, director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College. Nina was accompanied by her student Shannon Grangier, three red-tailed hawks, a barn owl, and Char Walker, who is a volunteer at the institute, a glassblower, and a veteran of twenty Penland glass Concentration workshops.
They were at Penland because Nina thought it was an ideal place to release Gunshot, a red-tailed hawk that was rehabilitated at the institute after being injured by shotgun pellets. She invited Char to do that actual release. (See video above.)
The other hawks that came along are the institute’s “ambassadors.” These are birds who would not survive in the wild. They are trained to be calm around groups of people and are shown to visitors and at public events as a way of promoting wildlife conservation and the work of the institute. Here we see Shannon on the right with a red-tailed hawk and Nina on the left with a leucistic red-tailed hawk. Leucism is a genetic condition in which parts or all of an animal’s body surface lack cells capable of producing any type of pigment.
Here’s Char with a barn owl.
The event was attended by students, staff, and neighbors. As we were walking off the knoll, everyone kept repeating some version of, “Wow, we were here for that.”