Raptor nurse Amber VanStrien helps sore birds soar again.
Q: What does a raptor nurse do?
A: I care for injured birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles and owls.
Q: How do birds end up in your care?
A: Folks call the Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Mizzou to report injured birds, and we go pick them up. Most have broken wings. Some are starving. Others have injuries to their eyes or talons.
Q: How do you patch them up?
A: Birds can’t talk, so we check the bird over to see what’s wrong. If it has a broken wing, doctors do surgery. If it hasn’t been eating, we feed it rats or mice. We keep a chart of the bird’s vital signs, treatments and feedings—just like a human patient.
Q: What’s the owl’s name?
A: Eskimo Razoo—Mo for short. He was a fluffy gray baby when he came in. It looked like he was wearing a puffy coat like an Eskimo.
Q: How did you get those scars on your forearm?
A: We went to rescue an injured hawk in a tree. My teammate climbed up, and the hawk came down. I grabbed its talons, but apparently my gloves weren’t long enough. The hawk clamped down on my forearm and wouldn’t let go.
Q: Ouch! Did you shake it off?
A: Shaking would have been bad—for me and the hawk. Instead, I waved my other hand, and the hawk let go to attack it. This time, though, all it got was glove. We named that bird “Tree Hugger.”
Nichole LeClair Terrill