As I’ve mentioned before, I currently live in staff housing at the outdoor education center where I work, specifically in a building that doubles as a raptor rehabilitation center. Surrounding the building are cages housing our permanent residents (avian residents, that is – the human residents have bedrooms inside), and this area is open to the public, which keeps life pretty interesting.
The inside of the building is off-limits to the public, but that doesn’t mean much to some people. Earlier this week I heard someone knocking on the front door and it turned out to be a man who was visiting and had some questions.
MAN: Are there more birds in the back cages? Can I go see them?
ME: No, that’s where our rehab birds are, the ones that are going to be released back into the wild. (Incidentally, that area is roped off and has a “staff only” sign.)
MAN: Oh, really? Do you ever let people adopt them, like, as pets? It would be real cool to have a hawk or something.
ME: Um… no.
A pet hawk?? I wish I were making this conversation up, but it really happened. I think it even topped the woman who wanted to know how she could get some eagle feathers to use in some New Age ritual. (Answer: unless you’re a registered member of an American Indian tribe, you can’t, and even then there’s a waiting list.)
Then yesterday I came back after breakfast to find a cardboard box sitting on the porch. I eyed it for a minute, thinking, I really hope there’s not a baby owl or something in there that someone decided to drop off anonymously. Then I thought, nah, no one would ever do a thing like that; this box probably belongs to one of my housemates, and I should leave it alone. Big mistake! The box actually turned out to contain an injured woodpecker, apparently deposited there by someone who’s a bit fuzzy on the definition of “raptor.” I can’t fault whoever it was, really, because they were trying to help an injured animal, but it was still strange. Like one of those stories where someone leaves a baby on the steps of the church. Or the beginning of Harry Potter. If Harry Potter were a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
To sum up, living here is never dull.