By Kelsi Ju
completing the final preparations for the two-hour interpretive program. As the new Park Interpreter for Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch I had a lot to double check to ensure the park unit and the program were ready for a memorable raptor filled morning. This was the common setting for the seasonal public interpretive programs titled Raptor Migration, which was hosted by Santa Clara County Parks in collaboration with San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory.
Each free two-hour long program was offered every Saturday during the months of October and November to the public. The program consisted of an introduction to raptor identification via flight patterns/behaviors and a moderate two-mile round-trip hike on Joice Trail. Introductions began with visitors waving their arms in unique ways to characterize the most common raptors at the park. After the giggling subsided from the “Vomiting Vulture” and “Big Butt Buteo,” visitors applied their newly acquired knowledge of raptor behaviors to field identification and observation.
During the hike, a taxidermy raptor specimen investigation and an interpretive facilitated dialogue was led by Eric and I. Visitors learned about the physical adaptations of raptors by closely examining talons, wings, feathers, and skulls of raptors. We used multi-lingual (English, Spanish, simplified and traditional Chinese) prompt cards to generate discussions amongst visitors who classified obstacles and aids to raptor migration.
By the end of the program, not only did I notice each visitor had a spark of curiosity ignited within them. Even after the program was completed, I saw visitors scrambling out from under the shade of large oak trees to catch a glimpse of any flying shadow overhead, despite being tired and overdue for lunch. They had a new hunger, a hunger to learn more about migratory raptors. Success!
Kelsi Ju is a park interpreter with the Santa Clara County Parks.
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