Bald eagle has landed at the Edgerton Explorit Center

Local4 News at 5
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 4:49 PM CDT
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AURORA, Neb. (KSNB) - An exciting addition at the Edgerton Explorit Center will enhance its educational programming.

Altair, a male bald eagle, now resides in Aurora and will soon be part of the Edgerton Explorit Center’s Raptorology Programming.

The Raptorology Program started at the center in 2019 when three raptors from the Raptor Conservation Alliance were transferred as Education Ambassadors after they were non-releasable due to injuries.

The first three raptors included an American Kestrel, an Eastern Screech Owl and a Swainson’s Hawk.

In November, the Raptor Conservation Alliance contacted the Edgerton Explorit Center about a Bald Eagle that would be available for educational programming once it had completely healed.

For the Edgerton Explorit Center to have the eagle transferred, they had to obtain a special eagle permit. The permit requirements were stringent including having an educator with more than 300 hours of handling large birds along with specific funding and enclosure requirements.

The eagle had been found near Omaha with a broken wing and had undergone two major surgeries that amputated the tip of the wing.

Following the surgery, it would not be able to return to the wild, so the goal of the Raptor Conservation Alliance was to find a safe place where the eagle could live the rest of its life and be able to provide an opportunity for educational programming.

Altair will be an instrumental part of the Edgerton Explorit Center’s programming: teaching people about raptors, conservation, and how we can help protect them.

Edgerton educator, Deb Miller has been instrumental in bringing the Raptorology Program to the Edgerton Explorit Center.

“I have been involved with raptor conservation for more than 10 years and am so excited to be able to provide raptor education right here at the Edgerton Explorit Center. Altair was wild before his injury, so training him and preparing him to be a part of our programming will take a lot of time, hard work and patience. He will need to be trained to be handled, picked up and placed on a perch and sit comfortably on my arm in front of large crowds as I walk and talk about him with audiences,” Miller said.

“Having Altair at the center will provide so many new opportunities, and I know visitors will be really excited to learn more about the bald eagle and raptors in general when they see him up close and personal in our Raptorology Program,” Miller said.

Edgerton director, Mary Molliconi said that obtaining the permit and the funding to provide the programming also took time.

“In order to obtain the permit, one of the requirements was to have an endowed eagle fund where funds will be available to feed and care for the eagle long term. We were able to get an initial eagle endowment fund from Hamilton Telecommunications that allowed us to build the eagle’s enclosure to very specific measurements and provide food and care. We were very fortunate to have an amazing staff that all worked together to get everything ready for the permit, which included building the eagle’s new enclosure in subzero temperatures this past December and January,” Molliconi said.

The endowment included naming rights of the eagle by Hamilton Telecommunications. The name Altair was chosen because of its significance to both eagles and the Edgerton Explorit Center’s other science programming.

Altair is the name of the brightest star that shines in the constellation, Aquila - the Eagle.

With the addition of Altair, the Edgerton Explorit Center now has four out of the five categories of birds of prey represented in its educational programming and are the only Nebraska organization with a Bald Eagle as an Education Ambassador.