Bob the barn owl flapped his wings as Dale Kernahan, co-founder of Wings to Soar, described how owls can be mistaken for ghosts.
“Barn owls love to hunt at dusk near cemeteries,” Kernahan said, “and seeing something large, white and hooting swoop toward you as you mourn your loved ones has often come across as ghostly.”
The barn owl was one of eight birds that graced Benwood Auditorium at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Friday, Oct. 28, a flock that included Gilbert the kestrel, Zim the peregrine falcon, Buddy the screech owl, Zeke the Harris’ hawk, Cayce the black vulture, and Atsa Yashi the bald eagle.
“I’ve never seen an owl before, so to see two was amazing,” said Isaiah Owens, a senior theater major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “They really are as prestigious-looking in person as they are in Harry Potter.”
Wings to Soar is a nonprofit environmental education organization that saves wounded raptors and uses them to teach audiences about the birds.
Birds of prey often are unable to return to the wild after human care due to their seeing humans as a food source.
Only Cayce the black vulture flew over the audience. John Stokes, co-founder of Wings to Soar, said if the room had been brighter they would have flown Gilbert the kestrel and Bob the barn owl as well.
“I never had gotten the chance to go before, so this year I got to cross it off my collegiate bucket list,” Owens said about the annual event.
For more information about Wings to Soar, visit https://www.soarsouth.org.