Poll: Help the WIldlife Center name the hawk

The polls are now open in the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s campaign to name a red-tailed hawk – a non-releasable hawk that will soon be visiting schools as one of the Center’s environmental ambassadors.

The Center is taking online votes in this Name-the-Hawk contest through Monday, Feb. 21, and everyone is encouraged to participate. To vote, visit www.wildlifecenter.org/wp/vote-hawk-name.

In January, the Wildlife Center, a leading teaching and research wildlife hospital located in Waynesboro, contacted 39 area elementary schools to ask students to provide suggestions for a name for the red-tailed hawk (the schools are in Augusta and Rockingham Counties and in Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro). Students from 21 schools suggested more than 170 names, and five were chosen for the contest:

  • Cherry Tail, suggested by Samantha Glick, a third-grader in Mrs. Rainey’s class at McSwain Elementary in Staunton. “A cherry on the stem reminded me of the hawk’s one eye. That’s what made me think of Cherry Tail,” said Glick.
  • Phoenix, suggested by Mrs. Fulk’s fourth-grade class at Peak View Elementary (Penn Laird). “We thought of Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore’s pet bird that rose from the ashes and saves people in need,” the class said in its suggestion.
  • Poppy, suggested by Andrew Winfield, a fourth-grader in Mrs. Heizer’s class in Stuarts Draft Elementary. “Because poppies are red, and she is a red-tailed hawk.”
  • Ruby¸ suggested by Mrs. Phelps’ first-grade class at South River Elementary (Grottoes). “We are currently studying Ruby Bridges. The kids thought since Ruby was a brave girl who fought to have a better life and since rubies are red, this would be a good name for a female red-tailed-hawk who also fought for her life.”
  • Twizzler, suggested by Vinny Leo, a fourth-grader in Mrs. Quick’s class at Hugh K. Cassell Elementary (Augusta County). “Vinny’s idea is that Twizzlers are red, like the hawk’s tail.”

In addition to bragging rights, the school that suggested the winning name will receive a special visit from the hawk and Center staff.

The hawk was hit by a car in Dayton in February 2010 and admitted as a patient to the Wildlife Center – one of 45 red-tailed hawks treated at the Center during 2010. Upon admission, the Center’s veterinary team found a fracture in her left wing as well as severe trauma to her right eye. While her wing healed, her eye had to be surgically removed. With limited vision, the bird cannot see well enough to be released into the wild. Since May 2010, Center staff have been working with the hawk to determine her suitability as an education ambassador – a bird that would accompany Center staff on trips to schools, county fairs, and other public events.

At the Wildlife Center, patients are assigned numbers, but education animals are given names.

“Our education animals help students better understand our state’s wildlife and the steps each of us can take to protect wildlife and the environment,” said Amanda Nicholson, the Center’s director of outreach. “It’s such a treat for students to get to see a hawk or an owl or an opossum up close. We’re delighted that area students and the general public will help us name this hawk, who will become another special teacher at the Wildlife Center.”

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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