VOLUNTEER - Resident Ambassador Handling Program
The Center maintains a group of 18 non-releasable birds (primarily hawks, owls, and falcons) for use in educational talks and outreach events. These are usually birds that have recovered from an injury but have sustained permanent damage, making them incapable of surviving in the wild. Volunteers with the Resident Ambassador Program are responsible for handling the birds, keeping them fed, cleaning their aviaries, performing weekly health evaluations and maintaining equipment. Volunteers learn how to handle the birds on their gloved fist, secure them to a perch, box them for transport to public events, and much more. Once they become competent in the necessary handling skills, volunteers are eligible to participate in our Educational Program with the public.
Participants in this program have a uniquely rewarding opportunity to closely work with birds usually observed only from a distance. This work requires a certain level of physical dexterity and conditioning (e.g., the ability to hold a 3-pound bird for an hour or more on the left hand, bending down to perch a bird, standing for an extended period, etc.). The hands-on instruction is extensive, requiring several months of weekly, 2-hour+ training sessions, and covers not only the care and handling of these birds, but also the study of migration, avian anatomy, bird identification and other topics commonly part of our Education Programs.
Once formal training is completed, handlers are expected to work with the Resident Ambassadors a minimum for 2-3 hours each week, and to present birds o the public during at least one Visitor Day per quarter. Attendance at occasional guest lectures and study groups may be required from time to time.
Raptor handlers are also required to undergo the one-day Field Rescue training. All volunteers are required to become BRC members, have health insurance coverage and be up to date on their tetanus booster, and anyone transporting birds to education programs or other events needs proof of current auto insurance coverage as well.