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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Hinsdale, MA
Animal Science: Captive Raptor Management
Summer College 2012
Hi everyone! My name is Ivy, and I have grown up in Hinsdale, MA (a small town in Western Massachusetts). I have just completed my junior year at Miss Hall’s School, and I am going to be studying Animal Science: Captive Raptor Management this summer at SC. I am so excited to participate in this program because I love birds. I have both ducks and pigeons, and I have a great respect for nature.

I enjoy hiking, biking, camping, swimming, soccer, lacrosse, painting, and reading. I have also participated in the JDRF Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes for the past three years, and I will ride again in October. I cannot wait to start the program and meet others attending Summer College.

It is less than a week until I arrive at Cornell! I am so excited about meeting new people and making new friends. I cannot wait to start learning about captive raptor management and participate in other events (although I do have to wait). However, during this week I will be very busy packing, having just unpacked from a camping trip. Other than making sure I have everything I need packed before I leave this week, I am also slightly concerned about managing my severe food allergies. Nevertheless, it will be a good experience to figure out how I will be able to manage my allergies in college. Although I have had a great summer so far, camping, hiking, swimming, biking, and of course, working, I am even more excited to start Summer College. Hope to meet everyone soon!

This past week went by so fast and was absolutely amazing. I have met so many nice people here and am continuing to meet more every day. The campus is beautiful with its gorges and wildlife (especially the many deer that are not afraid of anyone and the loon that I see every day in the gorge when I walk to class.)

I have already learned so much in about raptors in my class. We have an upcoming term paper due on Friday, and a group presentation the last week of SC. Our labs are especially fun and interesting. We go out to the raptor barns every other afternoon. The first day we met all of the raptors and learned how to tie a falconer's knot (which I need to keep practicing). We also prepare food every time: young chicken, quail, and day-old chicks, and feed most of the raptors. I learned how to hold a raptor, and I have held Zorro the Spectacled Owl, Tim an American Kestrel, and Ike a Harris's Hawk. We also made jesses (which help attach leashes to raptors) and imped feathers (repaired feathers). Along with these activities, we have been doing so many other things I would not be able to write them all down.

I have not had any problems with my food allergies here. Everyone at the dining hall is so helpful and wants to make my experience here an amazing one. During my short stay here, I have also gone on two field trips with my Captive Raptor Management class. The first was to Treman State Park where we swam and had a picnic dinner, then went out for ice cream (where there was some that I could eat!). Then we went to the zoo in Syracuse yesterday (Saturday). I have been working on my group project this weekend along with hanging out, playing cards, and hiking with my friends. I can't believe that it has one week has already gone by!

Two weeks have already passed! I can barely believe that I won't be here in a week. Much of this week passed the same as last week. However, we had our first quiz last Tuesday and first exam last Thursday, both of which went fine. This past week, Risley Hall turned into Hogwarts (it does look like a castle), and everyone was sorted into houses. With my class, we went to the Lab of Ornithology and saw some of the sound archives and also learned about what people do at the Lab. During class last Friday, we started making hoods (which go over a raptor’s head to calm them down). It is a very difficult task, but also amazing to see how well some of them turned out.

During lab this past week we have been handling the birds more. We have seen and helped with health checks and capturing untrained Northern goshawks, Harris’s hawks, and Sharp-shinned hawks from their aviaries. Of course, this all includes cleaning their aviaries (we could only do about two a day as a class).

This weekend I finished my research paper about enrichment for captive raptors (the due date was moved to Monday), and now I am off to work on my group presentation about raptor banding. I also went to see The Amazing Spider-Man at Ithaca mall, which was a lot of fun.

There is a lot going on this next week. We have our presentations, a final exam, and a practical exam for lab. Saturday will be here too quickly along with the closing ceremony.

The last week of Summer College went by too fast even though it was full of things to do. We handed in our papers, took a quiz, gave a presentation, and completed two exams. We also had the chance to participate in several extra activities. The first took place Wednesday night. We went to Morrison Hall (were we had our lectures), and had a chance to hold the birds and present them to each other. I held Eleanor the Red-tailed Hawk. My arm was so tired after holding her for about ten minutes. After that, we watched video clips of raptors. The second activity was a presentation at Treman State Park where three others in my class presented raptors to a summer camp. After the presentation, we went for a hike up above the gorge and lake at Treman State Park.

The last day was busy even though I had packed the day before. We had a chance to show our families the birds before going home. It is nice to be home, but I miss being at Cornell with my friends. At home, four pigeons hatched while I was at Cornell, and I was very happy to see them. This week, I saw three Red-tailed Hawks circling in my yard, which was very interesting having just taken a course about raptors. I am so glad that I had the experience of Summer College and I am excited about going to college in a year.