Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wingin' It

Anyone who knows me, will tell you -- I'm a planner...and not just a few days in advance.  I like to  plan weeks, sometimes months ahead.  Whether it's setting money aside before our 11 year old dryer decides to take a vacation, securing a sitter six weeks before an event or mapping out our summer activities in March - it's clear, I like to have things settled and decided.  I'm not sure where I inherited my planning genes, certainly not from my parents. They have always been big proponents of "winging it".  For as long as I can remember, my Dad worked seven days a week.  But, every summer, my parents would set aside two weeks to take my brother and sister and I on a family vacation. It was the 80's and a time when seatbelts were optional yet it was always expected that we begin our trips at 3 a.m.  My mom would lay the back seat of our powder blue stationwagon down flat and make a bed for us in hopes that we'd sleep for the first five hours of the drive. When I would ask what they had planned for our trip, I often heard, "We're just going to play it by ear." Their plans were often little more than a final destination.

Argh.  Who are these people? I must have been adopted.

I vividly recall the first time I tried to help my planning-challenged parents.  I was about eight or nine years old and saw a commercial on visiting Florida. The cheery announcer even had a phone number for viewers to call to receive a free packet of travel information.  I called up the number and ordered the materials, but when they arrived and I excitedly explained how easy it would be for them to make reservations...they just laughed. "Why would we want to do that?" 

It was then and there that I knew...I was definitely adopted.

Even so, we always had a good time --whether it was seeing Dorothy's ruby slippers at the Smithsonian, making hand-dipped candles in historic Williamsburg, sand surfing along Lake Michigan or riding bikes around Macinac Island. I hate to admit it, but my parent's unplanned vacations are among my fondest childhood memories.

But, that doesn't mean I've been able to easily rid myself of my planning ways.

However, this weekend somehow snuck up on me, and I found myself in a rare position...Steve did not have to work, the kids didn't have any extracurricular plans or birthdays to attend, it was Saturday and I hadn't planned a thing for us to do!  At 1 p.m. I'd decided that eventhough the weather looked crummy, we were not going to waste a precious day with all of us together in one room, but all hooked into different electronic devices.  I rifled my brain to come up with a quick solution -- something outdoors, educational and free.  

By 1:30 p.m. Steve and I had loaded the kids into the car and were headed west on highway 44 to World Bird Sanctuary.  Though we hadn't visited in more than five years, I felt sure there would be something of interest for the kids.  I knew it would be educational and as always - admission and parking are free. As it turned out, we arrived on "National Trails Day" and just minutes before the start of their Saturday Animal Encounters show. We headed to the amphitheater and spent 30 minutes being both entertained and educated by two of the Sanctuary's naturalists, Christina and Trina, on many birds of prey.

World Bird Sanctuary was founded in 1977 by Ornithologist, Walter C. Crawford, Jr. Today, the  property located on 305 acres of Missouri hardwood forest is managed by 25 full time staffers. Each year more than 300 birds are treated in their state-of-the art Wildlife Hospital.  Their rehabilitation program is run by volunteer veterinarians and experienced staff and interns.  The goal is to release as many raptors as possible back into the wild. In addition, they've treated more than 900 parrots as part of their parrot rehabilitation and placement program. Cost to care for one injured bird is about $1,000.
Propagation is another important aspect of the Sanctuary. To date they've released more than 900 barn owls into the wild in Illinois and Missouri. And, because of their efforts, the barn owl was removed from Missouri's endangered species in October 2008. They have also cooperatively reintroduced Andean Condors, bald eagles, golden eagles and Harris hawks.

The mission of World Bird Sanctuary is to preserve the earth's biological diversity and to secure the future for threatened bird species in their natural environments through education, propagation, field studies and rehabilitation.

World Bird Sanctuary is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving and Christmas. They offer free seasonal shows, nature trails, educational programs for schools and scouting troops and picnic pavilions.  Come see their live displays of bald eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, vultures, parrots, reptiles and much more.

Click here to check out their events calendar.

Click here to learn how you can help support the World Bird Sanctuary -- everything from participating in their "adopt-a-bird" program, purchasing an item from their wish list to using goodsearch as your search engine...every little bit helps.

And, as I've come to learn...sometimes wingin' it is not only fun, but educational, too!

Patiently waiting for the show to begin.

Goblin, 10 year old barn owl was hatched at the Sanctuary. In the wild, their average life span is less than 2 years.

Mischief happily earned his keep by accepting donations from everyone.
Natalie decided to help out the Sanctuary by purchasing a stuffed owl from their gift shop.
Noah loved the hat he received as part of their National Trail Days promotion.
The kids stand in a replica of an eagles nest.  The biggest one recorded was 9 1/2  feet in diameter and 20 feet high 
The Sanctuary is located next to Lone Elk Park.  We drove through and found the place lived up to it's name.


  1. Your family vacations remind me of mine as a kid...station wagon converted into bed, leaving at 3 am, but we ALWAY had a carefully planned out trip thanks to my mom!
    It looks like your "wing-it day" turned out to be a delight!

  2. I'm a chronic planner too! I actually really hate spontaneity, and unfortunately my husband is spontaneous. He likes to say, "Why don't we xyz today?", "What?! How? Why? It's too late to do that, we don't have anything planned!" One day I'll get over it, I guess, but for right now it still throws me into panic attacks!
    Your trip to bird sanctuary sounds like a lot of fun. My kids would probably love something like that. I suppose I should start planning now if I want to visit in a year or so ;)
    Stopping by from SITS Sharefest

    1. Come on over to the dark side of spontaneity...I'm learning that it's not all bad. ;-)