Educational bird programs offered by Avian Connections

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Katie Ibsen holds Shiloh, a turkey vulture who is one of the attractions of the live bird educational programs presented by Avian Connections of Prairie du Chien. (Submitted photos)

Juniper, a saw-whet owl, is popular with audiences. Saw-whet owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America. They can be found in dense thickets, often at eye level, although they can also be found some 20 feet up. Saw-whet owls are the approximate height of a robin.

By Ted Pennekamp

 

A Prairie du Chien woman is the founder and wildlife educator at Avian Connections which strives to help conservation efforts through education. 

Katie Ibsen was the director of education at the Raptor Education Group Inc. of Antigo prior to moving to Prairie du Chien last year with her fiance. She now runs Avian Connections from her home on Cliffwood Drive.

“We are in the process of becoming a non-profit,” said Katie about Avian Connections. “Our funding comes from donations and program income from the public. The funding goes toward taking care of our birds.”

Katie explained that Avian Connections has Vlad, a black vulture; Shiloh, a turkey vulture; and Juniper, a saw-whet owl. The three birds are presented as part of educational programs for church groups, schools, nursing homes, libraries, clubs and other such organizations.

“The purpose is to get people excited about birds through fun and engaging presentations,” said Katie. “How can we inspire kids to care about birds? How can we help protect birds in the wild? We want to get people excited about birds.”

Avian Connections was launched in March of 2021 and Katie said the goal is to create its own educational facility. The three birds at Avian Connections are all rescued birds and can’t be released back into the wild due to injuries. Katie said special state and federal permits are among the requirements in order to keep rescued birds. 

Katie has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife education from UW-Stevens Point, and has eight years of experience with rehabilitation clinics and animal husbandry. In order to gain the permits, a person needs to prove themselves to federal and state officials, she said.

Katie said that hopefully one day Avian Connections will be able to rehabilitate birds as well provide educational programs for the public.

“We rely heavily upon the public to keep us running,” said Katie about Avian Connections. 

If any school, library, club or organization wishes to host an educational program with Avian Connections, or if they wish to donate, they can contact Katie at (319) 331-4869 or by email at avianconnections.education@gmail.com, or find Avian Connections on Facebook or instagram.

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