"Birds Take Flight" is a fundraiser and celebration of birds and nature in the arts on Saturday, from 3-7 p.m. at the stunning Shelburne Farms Coach Barn in Shelburne, overlooking the bay, featuring the works of many Northeast Kingdom artisans .
The event, which will benefit the raptor rehabilitation and wildlife education nonprofit, "Outreach for Earth Stewardship", includes chances to meet wild ambassadors/education birds, a reading a book signing of the new novel The Starling God by Tanya Sousa, an exclusive showing of the documentary An Unwelcome Success: The European Starling in North America by filmmaker Richard Smedley, a silent auction of a wide variety of bird and nature-oriented artwork from paintings prints and photography to wood working, jewelry and pottery, finger food, a cash bar and more. The evening will conclude with the release of a rehabilitated owl wintered over at the OFES facility at Shelburne Farms.
Outreach for Earth Stewardship admits an average of fifty birds every year needing varying degrees of care; although they are located in Shelburne, they have taken in patients from the Northeast Kingdom a number of times, including an osprey in Coventry shot illegally a few years ago. A few birds that have sustained injuries that are too severe to allow their return to the wild are permitted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife to be kept for educational purposes. These wild ambassadors reach thousands of Vermonters annually at schools, festivals, farmer's markets, and special events as well as regular presentations at Shelburne Farms.
Eveleen Cecchini and Craig Newman, who prior to the formation of OFES volunteered at VINS and collaborated as rehabilitators, founded the nonprofit in 1989. In 1997 a wonderful partnership began with Shelburne Farms where both rehab operation and education were consolidated and housed in the renovated kennel building. "We have a dedicated core of volunteers and rely on the financial support from the community for day-to-day operations," OFES Director Newman explained. Injured birds often need vet care, medications, housing and certainly food while they are convalescing. Wild Ambassadors require a lifetime of care and maintenance but the birds return on that investment a thousand fold by the programs they do and connections they make.
Some of the wild ambassadors have profiles on OFES's web page: www.ofesvt.org. The list includes Elfric the gray phase eastern screech owl hit by a car in Charlotte in 2001 (he lost an eye and hearing on one side), Carson, a red phase screech owl also struck by a car in 2003, Raz, a raven found as a very young fledgling starving and with infections in both eyes (Raz mimics a number of phrases including, "Hold still!" which Newman said while putting medicated drops in his eyes for several weeks and Anubis, the glorious Turkey Vulture. "He is a very charismatic character who never fails to impress all those he meets and seems to enjoy supervised "play dates" with Raz the Raven.
For those who can't make it to the fundraising event but want to help, please visit www.ofesvt.org/donate-to-ofes/. There is also the opportunity to support the "Under Your Wing" program where your donation "adopts" one or more of the education birds. Anyone needing directions to the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn may reference the Shelburne Farms website: http://www.shelburnefarms.org.