"Honoring the Winged Ones"
Third Annual Pow-Wow Celebration a huge success!
(All Proceeds will help build the new WV Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Bunner Ridge)

The third annual "Honoring the Winged Ones" Pow-wow celebration was held September 28-29, 2002 at Bunner Ridge Park near Fairmont, West Virginia. As usual, the event proved both fun and educational for all who attended. This year’s host drum was Mother Earth Beat, joined by guest drums Four Winds and ONAI. The celebration began with Grand Entry on Saturday at noon, featuring Annie the red-tailed hawk, Snow (aka Waupee) the white red-tailed hawk, Orion the broad-winged hawk, and Thunder the American bald eagle. Grand Entry was Orion’s first public appearance as an education bird! After the colors, dancers, and birds took their places in the circle, Ellie Spotted Dove recounted an Ojibwa story about how the eagle once saved humans from the wrath of the Creator.

Festivities continued throughout the weekend, including periodic environmental education programs starring the birds. Representatives from many Eastern Woodland peoples provided beautiful music and dancing, adding to the richness and enjoyment of the weekend.

Perhaps the most memorable events occurred at the end of each day--the release of two rehabilitated red-tailed hawks. The bird released Saturday was a male red-tail who came to the Center in May, 2002 with a fractured left wing after colliding with a vehicle. One of our volunteer veterinarians sutured the skin and set the bone. The young hawk recuperated in our Intensive Care Unit until just a few weeks before the Pow-wow, when he was moved to an outside flight cage for exercise. It was obvious to volunteers at the Center that this bird wanted to leave!

On Saturday, Raptor Center volunteer and pow-wow organizer SilverSwan held the red-tail wrapped in a blanket against the ground. Pow-wow visitors and dancers formed a half-circle behind the bird and waited breathlessly for SilverSwan to pull back the blanket. And as soon as she did--whoosh!--the hawk shot across the field and perched on the highest branch of a nearby tree. After a few minutes, he took off again, finally disappearing into the trees at the edge of the forest. Success!! It’s safe to say that everyone on the Ridge was in tears at the sight of this beautiful raptor, FREE TO FLY AGAIN! (see pictures of Saturday's release)

Sunday’s release of a female red-tailed hawk was equally as moving. This was a bird who had been at the Center for almost a year--originally, we thought she was unreleasable due to nerve damage to her right wing. But, with consistent exercise, flight feathers began to grow properly and the wing continued to strengthen until she was ready for release. Again, SilverSwan wrapped the hawk in a blanket and held her against the ground. But when the blanket was pulled back this time, instead of shooting straight for the trees, the hawk spun around and spread her wings open towards the audience (see a picture of her striking a similar pose in the "rehab birds" section of the Photo Gallery). After a moment, though, she turned and soared through the trees and was gone! Another success!! After each day’s release, SilverSwan and Spotted Dove sang "Amazing Grace" in Cherokee while onlookers wiped tears and searched the treetops for the red-tailed hawks.

The colors were retired on Sunday evening, marking the end of this year’s Pow-wow celebration. Thank you to all dancers, drummers, guests, and Raptor Center volunteers for making the event a success. Keep checking the website and upcoming newsletters for announcements about next year’s event! We can only hope it will be as wonderful and enjoyable as the third annual Honoring the Winged Ones Pow-wow celebration!

 

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