Debunking myths with the Center for Birds of Prey

Southeastern Wildlife Expo

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Outside the rumbling of Charleston city life lies a sanctuary for the birds. The Center for Birds of Prey is dedicated to conservation, research, and education of wild birds from around the world.

However, the center’s staff face a growing challenge as more and more injured birds end up in their hospital every week. The culprit, while generally unintentional, is human life.

Stephen Schabel is the Director of Education at the center. When he’s not giving tours and educating visitors about their birds; he’s visiting schools and educating students.

He says that one of his favorite parts of his job is debunking common misconceptions made about birds. For example, the widely spread thought that baby birds shouldn’t be touched in the fear that the mother will not return to the nest.

“Let’s imagine, we find a little bird on the ground. We pick it up, we touched it. We wanna put it back in the nest,” says Schabel.

“It isn’t because mom smelled you, it’s because you’re still disturbing things. If you walk away, and leave it alone, then maybe mom has a chance to come back.”​

Stephen Schabel

One of the points he tries to cover with visitors is what could happen if a human meddles with a bird during its early life. He showed the example of an 18-year-old owl that still begs for food from humans.

“This guy associates humans with mom and dad. He is one that still begs for food because his mom and dad still feed him as an 18-year-old bird. He can’t go back into the wild because he would try and associate with the wrong kind of animal,” he says.

Schabel explained that oftentimes an uneducated comment can spread like wildfire. For example, the bald eagle.

Years ago, the bald eagle was seen as a predatory against humans.

“There was a bounty on Bald Eagles in the United States up until the middle of the last century…so you could get paid in the 1930s and 40s to kill as many bald eagles as you could,” says Schabel.

On a lighter-hearted note, Schabel also explained how bird poop is actually not white.

The Center for Birds of Prey will be showing flight demonstrations at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo from February 13th through the 15th. For more information, click here.

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