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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE BIRD KIND

Janine Marnien

LA CRESCENTA -- Krystal Llera became one of the trees in a human

forest and had a hawk fly within inches of her Tuesday inside the gym at

Rosemont Middle School.

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It was all part of a program that started with an assembly about birds

of prey -- featuring live birds -- presented to the seventh-grade

students and arranged by the Parent-Teacher Assn.

“It was scary, because it felt like the bird’s wing was going to hit

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you,” Krystal said of the close encounter.

During the assembly, Bobby the Great Horned Owl, Lady Margaret the

Harris Hawk and Rowan the Lanner Falcon from Egypt sat patiently on their

perches, placed within a few feet of the first row of students on the gym

floor.

Presenter Tallon Knight, dressed in medieval European costume and

speaking with a Celtic accent, spent the first part of the assembly

explaining how each bird hunts.

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“When the bird catches its prey, it snaps its neck in two, instantly

killing it,” he said in a booming voice that grew louder and louder.

Lady Margaret then demonstrated how a hawk flies. At prompting from

Knight and his costumed helper, known simply as “Briged,” Lady Margaret

flew over the crowd of students. She came so close that many students had

to duck to avoid a head-on collision with the hawk.

She also flew through the human forest to demonstrate how a hawk can

maneuver in narrow spaces.

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The birds and their presenters made stops at science classes afterward

to give students more detailed information that could not be presented

during the assembly.

Members of the PTA organized the program to provide the

seventh-graders with an educational and fun way to learn about the birds,

as they begin to study the topic in their science classes.

The birds and presenters were from Falcons’ Court, a nonprofit

organization that travels to schools and libraries in the state, making

educational presentations about birds of prey.


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