Oct 202004
Authors: Clarke Reader

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

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