The Bald Eagle is a national symbol for the United States — but
some people do not know anything more about it.
That is one thing the Birds of Prey class offered by the Rocky
Mountain Raptor Program hopes to change.
The class, taught by Judy Scherpelz, executive director of RMRP,
is offered to any interested community member.
“Students are generally adults (college age through retirees),
but I occasionally get children as young as 8 to 10 (years old),”
wrote Scherpelz in an e-mail interview.
Scherpelz has been teaching the class for 14 years.
“I teach it because I love sharing my knowledge about the birds
and inspiring others to want to know more,” Scherplez wrote.
Scherplez’s colleagues are as impressed by the class as students
“Judy has a wonderful way of teaching about raptors,” said Lisa
Steffes, assistant director and coordinator for the RMRP. “I’ve
taken the class many times, and I learn something new each
There will be three sessions for the class this year. The first
session is Nov. 6 and is called “Why Birds are Cool.” The following
session, on Nov. 13, is called “What Bird was that?” This session
will feature live bird demonstrations.
“The classes are full-on information about bird physiology and
anatomy,” said Carin Avila, medical coordinator for the
The final session on Nov. 20 is called “Hey, I Saw an Eagle!”
and will include a field trip to different environments to see
birds in the wild. Participants must register for session one or
two to go on this trip.
One of Scherpelz’s personal highlights comes from a field
“Once, while on a field trip, while discussing the difference
color morphs of ferruginous hawks, a pair of ferruginous hawks flew
overhead, one white, one black. As we watched them, a bald eagle
flew up to check them out. While the three birds were flying around
over the ridge, a pack of coyotes came over the crest of the hill
immediately below them. It was like something from the cover of
National Wildlife or a Discovery Channel TV special,” Scherpelz
Scherpelz’s favorite part of teaching is her students.
“I really enjoy it when students come up to me after the lecture
on physiology and anatomy and say ‘I thought this would be boring.
But it is really cool to find out how birds work both inside and
out,'” Scherpelz wrote.
Nov. 6 “Why Birds are Cool”
Nov. 13 “What Bird was That?”
Nov. 20 “Hey, I Saw an Eagle!”
Registration Deadline Nov. 1
Cost for non-students: $50 per
session, $125 for three
Cost for students: $30 for one, $50
for two, $60 for three