DECATUR — Participants at the Raptor Focus Series got an up-close view of Solo, a red-tailed hawk ambassador from the Illinois Raptor Center.
Jacques Nuzzo, the center’s program director, conducted the first part of the three-session series Tuesday at Millikin University. He shared information about the species and its appearance, habitat and behavior.
“The key thing for Raptor Focus is identification, to be able to positively identify this bird and not by color, but more by behavior and the habitat that you’re in,” Nuzzo said, adding that the center hopes to educate people about the importance of proper identification.
The series focuses on one species each session. There are eight birds available, and Nuzzo is working on a ninth.
Jim Barr, president of the Decatur Audubon Society, said last year was their first to host the three-session series.
“I think it gives people an idea of the habitats and the importance of preserving those habitats and how birds can be an excellent indicator of how habitats are going ...” Barr said.
Last year, the American kestrel, great horned owl and Cooper’s hawk were featured.
“We had a really good turnout, and people were really enthused about it,” Barr said.
The series, put on by the Decatur Audubon Society, Millikin University, Illinois Raptor Center and Macon County Conservation District, also will feature the barn owl and peregrine falcon Feb. 26 and March 26, respectively.
Barr said Nuzzo’s knowledge about birds and the opportunity to see live examples have been two of the big draws to the program.
The materials in the sessions draw on the experience of the Illinois Raptor Center, Nuzzo said. He shared stories about the center’s rehabilitation and outreach efforts and brought along artifacts.
Ginger Reynolds and her son Isaac, 7, saw the program.
Isaac has been interested in all things avian ever since he could look up and say the word “bird,” his mom said.
“I just like birds,” said the McGaughey Elementary School student, adding that he enjoyed seeing Solo.
Registration for the next sessions is available at the Macon County Conservation District, 423-7708. The cost is $10 per session.