Nature’s Educators bring birds to HC for education, Earth Day

Hastings College celebrated Earth Day on April 23 with a flurry of feathers. The Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) invited alums Devin Jaffe ‘08, Julie Paszek ‘81, and four of their birds of prey to talk about working at Nature’s Educators, a non-profit educational wildlife program in Colorado.

SEAC brought back Jaffe and Paszek to HC with birds of prey for an educational seminar about the animals and conservation efforts. Last year, the event was open to the public and brought reptiles, amphibians and insects. This year, the mother-daughter pair only brought birds, and only HC students and faculty attended the event.

Jaffee founded Nature’s Educators in 2008. Jaffe and Paszek’s headquarters are in Sedalia, Colorado, where they house about 100 different animals. The animals are usually there for rehabilitation or rescue.

In addition to being the first wildlife biology major at HC, Jaffe is also a falconer. Jaffee explained the process of training her birds for hunting, noting that Harris’s hawks can usually be trained in two weeks while some of the more stubborn birds can take a month.

For the event, Jaffe and Paszek brought four birds.

Ajax, an American kestrel, is missing an eye. The American kestrel species weighs about four ounces and is found throughout the United States and in Canada and Mexico.

“This one (of the kestrels at Nature’s Educators) is the most personable,” Paszek said, comparing Ajax to other birds that Nature’s Educators use for education. Erebus, the great horned owl, is also missing an eye due to a car accident. Great horned owls can turn their head 270 degrees, thanks to seven more neck vertebrae than humans — a total of 14.

Jaffe and Paszek also brought Osiris the black vulture. Osiris has neurological damage, either from falling from the nest or from birth. Jaffe compared the impairment to a human with obsessive-compulsive disorder or Tourette syndrome.

“It’s not exclusive to humans. I didn’t realize how many things that affect birds that humans have,” Paszek said.

Finally, Jaffe showed off Spike, the Harris’s hawk, one of the birds of prey she uses for hunting. Spike is also a rescue bird.