Well, summer is almost over, and I’ve reached the final chapter of my internship. My time as an intern has really…flown by! Maybe not like, peregrine falcon speed (242 mph), but probably more golden eagle diving speed (150 mph). Just kidding, but you get the idea! This summer has literally been the best, busiest, and birdiest one that I’ve had. On top of working a second job and taking online psychology, I got to do what I love the most, which is work with birds, and I also got to meet and work with some of the best people. Together we were able to tell crowds about the birds we love.
This blog post might be a bit of an organized mess, because there is just so much to talk about. To separate things out a bit, I put together a list of questions for me to answer about my internship and talk about any fun memories I think of. So, without…feather adieu…
What intimidated you the most going into this internship, and how did you overcome it?
I am an introvert at heart, so talking to people, including the public, seemed intimidating to me. However, I knew it was a part of my job to educate people about birds, and I honestly really wanted to get good at it. Getting good at public speaking was actually one of my major goals for this internship. I really appreciated how my supervisors eased me into achieving this. I started out by holding Isham the red-tailed hawk during a program on my second day. This allowed me to get used to being in front of a large crowd, listen how a program is verbally organized, and collect some knowledge about the birds as well. My next step was to spill some facts during a program, and what better candidate for me to speak about than Hayabusa the peregrine falcon? The speaker would do the introduction, then turn it over to me to talk about the bird facts, and then the speaker would fill in any information I didn’t cover and conclude the program. Eventually, I worked on my own introductions and conclusions, and I could speak a full program myself. After I did my first full program, I was pretty critical of myself, but then I worked on perfecting my speeches, being less hard on myself, and I improved my talking. I got to the point where I was speaking basically every morning program and an occasional afternoon program. I have seen a significant growth in my public speaking skills because of the practice and support I have received.
Who is your favorite bird to work with?
We have a sign in the mews that says, “If you can’t be with the bird you love, love the bird you’re with,” and I think that sums it up pretty well. But, even though I love working with any of the birds, I can’t just shy away from the fact that I have loved to handle a few specific birds as well. If I had to pick my top 3 birds that I’ve worked with this summer, it would probably be these:
- Hayabusa the peregrine falcon—for obvious reasons, since I’ve been obsessed with peregrines since middle school. I’ve always dreamed of working with a peregrine, so she’s stuck out to me from the beginning.
- Kateri the golden eagle—she is so incredibly chill, despite being huge and a literal apex predator. Everyone loves her as the showstopper!
- Hayden the Swainson’s hawk—he was the bird I didn’t expect to fall in love with because I’d never handled a Swainson’s hawk, and I didn’t know a lot about them, but he is just way too cute to not love.
How are each of the birds’ personalities different?
I’ll just go through and describe each of the birds’ personalities:
If you could re-live one moment of your internship, what would it be?
I’ll just share a few special moments, any of which I would want to re-live.
1. Amelia (short-eared owl) barked during a program. A lot of people are surprised to hear that not all owls “hoot.” Some bark, some toot, some hiss, and make other noises. It was my first time talking about Amelia, and there was a service dog sitting in the front row. When wild short-eared owls see a predator, such as a dog, they will vocalize at it to get its attention and hopefully lead it away. I had heard of Amelia barking during a program before, but I got to witness it unexpectedly during my program, and I got so excited! The audience thought she was hilarious! That was so fun. We were able to catch this noise on camera a bit later. It’s now a hit on TikTok
2. I was holding Kateri, and I noticed she was focused on something behind me, but I just assumed there was a random rabbit frolicking in the background or something of the sort. Then, towards the end of the show, a lady sitting in the front row gets my attention and says, “ma’am, there’s a snake behind you.” So, I turned around and saw the huge 4-5-foot-long bull snake just casually slithering down the stairs into the amphitheater and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “I LOVE bull snakes!” Apparently, this gorgeous reptile wanted to be a part of the raptor show. I’d heard stories about it randomly appearing before, and on my second to last day of my internship, it decided to make a guest appearance on stage! Everyone got up and started taking pictures of the new stage guest and everything was chaotic, but it was so much fun, and an awesome sight to see! And the snake slithered calmly to safety.
3. I was holding Isham during a program one day, and it went well and was pretty normal. However, after the program, this girl and her family came over to me and Isham and we had an amazing conversation. This little girl was EXACTLY like me when I was younger. She was around 11 years old, obsessed with falconry and birds, got into birds because of an animated movie, and now she was meeting her favorite bird of prey, a red-tailed hawk, aka Isham, up close. Just like what happened to me when I saw Hayabusa the peregrine falcon up close when I was 11, this little girl might have just gotten inspired to follow her dreams the same way. And this moment was exactly what I dreamed would happen to me one day: inspire a young person and change their life so they follow their dreams and create their own future, fueled by passion. This 11-year-old girl was already ten steps ahead of me from when I was that age. She asked so many good questions about falconry, raptors, and just bird things in general, and I gave her advice on how to get started. The only thing I forgot to ask? Her name. Maybe I’ll get lucky one day in the future and our paths will cross again, and she will be another intern who followed her dreams because of the Draper Museum Raptor Experience.
What advice would you give to the next intern?
Be ready to learn a lot, and especially think deeply about more topics than you would imagine. The animal industry is very complex and fun to explore! Not just ethics, but also working with animals. It’s one thing to read about animals and see them in the wild, and it’s a whole new realm to actually physically work with them. You get experience that could never be replicated by just learning in a classroom or reading a textbook. You learn how to feel out each birds’ personalities with time, and public speaking almost becomes second nature if you practice it a lot. Be enthusiastic! People love to hear about animals, and now it’s your job to tell them all about animals. If you love animals, people will see that while you talk, and love them too. Don’t be afraid to try new things, even if they seem intimidating at first. Have lots of fun and build relationships with each of the birds. The summer goes by way too fast, so enjoy it!
I would like to sincerely thank everyone who made my internship amazing, fun, and full of learning. I want to thank The Tucker Foundation and the Draper Natural History Museum for funding my internship, and for allowing this opportunity to exist. I’d like to thank my falconry sponsor, Olivia, for graciously letting me live at her house over the summer so my commute to the museum every day was short, and I had a place to wind down. Of course, thank you to my supervisors, Melissa and Brandon, who were so fun to learn from and build relationships with. Thank you to the many volunteers I got to know and meet along the way, and for supporting my endeavors as I learned. Thank you to everyone else I had the privilege to work with; museum curators, staff members, other interns, artists, and everyone I was able to meet and know during my internship. I’d also like to thank my family and friends for the support I have gotten this summer as I worked at my dream job. Thank you everyone! This summer was truly a dream come true for me.