Our Education Birds: Spyro
In Memorandum

In February, 2007, we lost an important member of our education team when volunteers found that Spryo had passed away in his flight cage at the center. Spyro came to us an adult bird in 2002 from Hampshire County, WV. Since it's not possible to tell the age of a bird once it reaches adulthood, Spyro could have been as young as two years or as old as ten or eleven when he came to us.

Spyro's injury was the result of being struck by a vehicle; he suffered permanent damage to his right wing. After evaluating his “personality” and temperament, we decided to make him a member of our educational team and give him a permanent home at the WVRRC. Volunteers named him “Spyro” after a children's video game character. In the video game, “Spyro” is a baby fire-breathing dragon; since the kestrel was very feisty—despite his small size—we thought the name fit.

Training Spyro to participate in education programs was a somewhat difficult process. Most raptors use their talons as a primary means of defense, but Spyro also used his sharp, curved beak. Even though his beak was small, he could deliver quite a painful bite—and instead of just nipping, he would actually grab the skin and twist! He was also lightning-quick despite his wing injury.

Even though he could sometimes be a little monster to work with, Spyro soon became popular with the volunteers. When he first came to the Center, we didn't have an appropriate permanent outside flight cage for him, so we held special work-days to build one. Several volunteers went above and beyond the call of duty to cut boards, dig post holes, stretch and staple netting, and construct a special set of perches for Spyro's new home. It was hard work, but when the cage was finished, seeing Spyro living in it was well worth the effort—his favorite spot to sit was inside (or on top of) his roosting box, where he could look into the woods and at the other birds outside, frequently bobbing his long tail.

Spyro was a hit at educational programs, too—his loud kleeklee! call always caused audience members to turn their heads. Children thought he was cute, and adults were often amazed that such a small bird could catch and kill field mice. During his five years at the WVRRC, Spyro did more than his part to help advance our educational mission. He traveled to programs all across the state, from Charleston to Parkersburg to Romney and beyond, reaching tens of thousands of people. Spyro will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure to meet him. We feel fortunate and blessed that we had the opportunity to work so closely with such a beautiful, fearless, amazing creature.

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Spyro's Image Gallery:

Spyro in a tree
Spyro at the WV State Capitol
Spyro at "his" Raptor Center

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