NORMAN — For almost 40 minutes straight, hand after hand shot into the air as students asked question after question at Jefferson Elementary on Friday. Engaged and intrigued, shouts of glee periodically went through the library as Woody, a Bald Eagle, stretched his wingspan and tried to take flight indoors. Eagles from the Grey Snow Eagle House in Perkins, Okla. showed off their magnificence while students learned about the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, their eagle aviary and the tribe’s connection and reverence for eagles.
Brett Clark, co-assistant manager of the eagle house, said eagles were important to his tribe because they believe eagles were the last to see the creator.
“We also believe eagles take our prayers up to the creator and their feathers have positive energy,” Clark explained.
The tribe takes feathers from healthy eagles whose feathers have molted off or feathers from the eagles in the aviary that are being rehabilitated and have molted off. Clark said the tribe would never take feathers from a sick or injured eagle. The eagle is so sacred to the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma that they bury eagles whole in a secret burial ground.
With four-year-old Golden Eagle Arby perched on her arm, Megan Trope, co-assistant manager of the eagle house, explained that there are 28 species of eagles world wide but in North America there are only the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle. Grey Snow Eagle House currently has 45 eagles, 12 Golden Eagles and 33 Bald Eagles.
Eagles can have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet and grow about 10 to 14 pounds, with females about 30 percent bigger than males. Trope said most of the eagles that are injured are hurt by wind blades or lead poisoning.
“The blades move very quickly and eagles look down when they fly, not in front of them, so they don’t see them and run into them,” she said.