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Kids treated to wildlife camp
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Children who enjoy exploring the outdoors, hiking trails, and experiencing all the fun and exciting adventures Tennessee State Parks have to offer were able to sign up for Junior Ranger Camp at Rock Island State Park this summer.
David Haggard, regional naturalist with Tennessee State Parks, visited the youngsters on Wednesday and brought along Ruby, a red-tailed hawk, Hooters, a horned owl, and Sunny, a bald eagle.
Haggard said bald eagles now have nests on every lake in Tennessee.
“Tennessee Lakes are the best places to see eagles in Tennessee. They live on or near water. Reelfoot Lake has over 30 bald eagle nests. The bald eagle is our national symbol and is the most protected animal in the United States,” said Haggard.
Sunny is 15 years old and has been with Haggard since he was 2.
“When we found him, he was solid brown. He had flown into a power line and had badly broken one of his wings. We knew how old he was because he was solid brown. His head had not turned white yet,” Haggard said.
Hooters, the great horned owl, was a big hit with the campers.
“The great horned owl is called ‘Tiger of the Sky’ because it can kill foxes, baby deer or any small animals,” said Haggard. “They can only fly away with something their weight or less. Hooters weighs two pounds, so he can only fly with something that weighs two pounds or less.”
Haggard said four types of owls are found in Tennessee, the barred, barn, horned and screech.
“The owl is the first bird to lay its eggs in Tennessee. The owl lays its eggs in January,” said Haggard.
Haggard also explained how owls are able to twist their heads over 180 degrees. “Humans as well as all mammals have seven bones in their necks. Owls have 14 bones in their necks. That makes them more flexible. They cannot move their eyes so they move their heads to focus.”
Rock Island park manager Damon Graham said, “This is the first year Rock Island has offered an official Junior Ranger Camp. Twenty students signed up for the class which lasted five days. Dava Lundquist organized the camp this year, which included many fun and informative presentations. She did a great job.”
Presentations included a class teaching Cherokee history and visits by the Rock Island Volunteer Fire Department and Brian Jennings with Warren County EMS explaining search and rescue procedures. School resource officer Bobby Pennington also talked about bicycle safety.
Many hands-on activities and crafts were offered throughout the week, including owl pellet dissection, tomahawk throwing, primitive fire starting, canoeing, using a Cherokee blowgun, using a map and compass, hiking to the falls, and tie dying.
A graduation ceremony was held Friday where the campers received their official Junior Ranger badges. The camp was open to children aged 6 to 14.