My two year old daughter Ginger got to touch an owl today at the Prospect Park Raptor Fest, thanks to Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation. She didn’t realize how rare the experience is, but was delighted. So were the few hundred other New Yorkers who got a close up look at hawks, owls, an eagle and a raven, birds that for one reason or another (usually something human) wouldn’t be able to make it in the wild.
Fireman Bobby Horvath and his wife Cathy St. Pierre treat about 800 animals a year, then, despite seeing the worst of what people can do to animals, turn around on their day off and bring the animals out to charm people.
Another falconry group, Talons! A Bird of Prey Experience, there did a great flying show show with a very well-rehearsed schtick. The Horvaths are more low key. They talked one-on-one to little kids: you don’t have to worry about coyotes, they’re very shy, Cathy told one. Bobby stopped everything to make sure a woman in a wheelchair got a picture with a bald eagle. Cathy explained to an adult that wildlife rehab was like a lifestyle for them, every morning she gets up and cleans up the animals.
The Horvaths are even more kind when you consider that a neighbor’s complaint almost prompted Oyster Bay to shut down their whole operation. I was so glad today they didn’t get shut down and are still out there saving animals and showing them to us.