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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Raptors seeking better accommodations: Fundraiser supports facility upgrades at West Valley Outdoor Learning Center

The West Valley Outdoor Learning Center is asking for a little help for its feathered friends. The building that houses the facility’s birds of prey is in need of an upgrade and a Rolling for Raptors event Saturday at Roller Valley will raise money for the improvements.

The West Valley facility was founded 18 years ago and houses six owls and hawks in addition to tortoises, lizards and other assorted creatures. All of the birds have been permanently injured in some way and cannot live in the wild.

The building the birds live in is small, has no insulation and has only a few small windows letting in natural light.

“Nothing has been done to the building since it was put in,” director Jami Ostby-Marsh said. “It’s those things you don’t think of when you’re building.”

The building needs to have insulation added to help prevent the birds’ water from freezing in the winter.

“Basically, we’re chipping water out,” she said.

The building will still be unheated, with the exception of the warming lamps in the roost of the facility’s Harris hawk, Stan, who comes from a desert climate.

There are also plans to make the windows larger so the interior isn’t so dim.

“The original windows are pretty small,” Ostby-Marsh said. “We thought we could bring in more light with larger windows. We think their living situation will be improved, too, especially on the cold, dark winter days. Natural light is so much more important.”

The birds also seem to enjoy looking outside, she said. On a recent day a rough-legged hawk named Pantelones sat on her perch looking out her window as the sound of children playing at the adjacent Pasadena Park Elementary School filtered in.

“She loves the window,” Ostby-Marsh said. “I think she likes to watch the kids at recess.”

Many people, especially children, are familiar with the birds, who often visit local schools and other events to educate about birds of prey. One of their most popular birds, a great horned owl named Hanovi, died last fall.

Hanovi was well-mannered and often chosen for public events. Staff at the facility thought she was a male until she laid an egg last year.

“She probably educated 30,000 people,” Ostby-Marsh said.

In addition to Stan and Pantelones, current residents include a great horned owl named Alberta, a red-tailed hawk named Arden and a barred owl named Orville. The newest addition is a barn owl named Ruby.

The Rolling for Raptors event will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Roller Valley, 9415 E. Fourth Ave. Admission is $10, which includes skate rental. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and tickets will be available at the door.

Several of the facility’s raptors will be there, and people will be allowed to take pictures with them. There will be a basket raffle, a bake sale and crafts for kids. The facility’s mascot, Robbie the owl, will be there as well.

It seemed only natural to do a roller-skating event at a facility that is close by many West Valley families, Ostby-Marsh said.

“Originally we were going to do a bike ride, but it got to be too big,” she said. “You have to have permits from the county and all that.”

Ostby-Marsh said she’s hoping to raise $2,500 for the building improvement project.

“We can do that,” she said. “I know we can do that. Our goal is to have 100 people there. If we have more, great.”

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