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Owl Prowl gives Lee’s Summit library audience a firsthand look at a majestic bird

On Saturday, Swoop, a Eurasian eagle-owl, regally entertained an audience of owl lovers during the “Owl Prowl” program at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s Lee’s Summit Branch. Wings of Love’s Rachael Young presented the hourlong fun program.
On Saturday, Swoop, a Eurasian eagle-owl, regally entertained an audience of owl lovers during the “Owl Prowl” program at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s Lee’s Summit Branch. Wings of Love’s Rachael Young presented the hourlong fun program. Special to the Journal

Swoop, a spectacular Eurasian eagle-owl, effortlessly wrapped the audience around his talon during Saturday morning’s “Owl Prowl” program at the Lee’s Summit Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library.

From the time he was an owlet, stage-savvy Swoop has starred in bird programs across the metro. Far from reclusive (as owls often are), Swoop embraces the limelight. Per his usual, he captivated Saturday’s audience, while they also learned all about his intriguing species.

The one-hour program was presented by Rachael Young from Wings of Love, a Kansas City-area organization focused on educating the community and raising awareness about birds.

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Swoop demonstrated his 5 1/2 foot wing span for the audience. Anne Marie Hunter Special to the Journal

“Birds ground us,” Young said. “As we take a step back from technology, they root us to Mother Earth and give us a time out.”

During her opening slide presentation, Young shared abundant knowledge about owls’ nesting habits, their prey, defense mechanisms and more. She also discussed details about their diverse habitats, which include the desert, arctic tundra, forests and prairies.

In addition, she provided some fascinating facts about the program’s star.

“Swoop can hear the sound of a spider crawling in the grass 100 years away from him, and a mouse on the ground half mile away,” she said.

“The eye sockets of Eurasian eagle-owls are so heavy, they have to turn their entire heads to move their eyes,” she added.

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Swoop, an 11-year-old Eurasian eagle-owl, is one of more than several dozen birds from Wings of Love Swoop, whose species is cousin to the Great Horned owl, will live about 60 more years. Anne Marie Hunter Special to the Journal

Young also shared that, just like people, owls like to have fun. What does fun look like for these birds?

“Owls like to play. They burrow, jump, march and dance,” Young said.

Saturday’s “Owl Prowl” was just one of more than 200 free community programs presented by the Lee’s Summit Library during the past year. Program topics range from technology and small business, to nature, art and literacy. In addition, the library offers 10 regularly scheduled storytimes each week for its youngest patrons.

“We’re focused on education, building relationships and making connections with people in our community,” said Megan Garrett, the Lee’s Summit branch manager.

“We’re intentional about providing resources for our community and work closely with our community programming department. We look at what has worked well in the past, programs kids liked, and what the community is asking for. We try to cater to what people would like to see.

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Swoop waits calmly on his perch until it’s time for to fly for the audience. From libraries to luaus, and churches to schools, Swoop has been the starring bird at Wings of Love presentations since he was an owlet. Anne Marie Hunter Special to the Journal
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“We came to this event to see the live owl and to let an expert supplement what we’ve learned in books,” said Ayana Azim (right), who attended with Telawah Abdul-Rahien. Anne Marie Hunter Special to the Journal

“We’re also very focused on teens. We want to contribute to their well-being and be a positive force in their lives.”

As part of this programming, the library will host a teen lock-in Oct. 19. The event’s theme is “Be the Change.”

“This program is designed to give young people interested in activism and civic engagement an opportunity to share their experiences, learn from their peers and hear from local activist leaders on how to get involved,” Garrett said.

“There are a lot of kids who want to do something but don’t know what to do or how to get involved. So we’re providing a place where they can learn about opportunities to serve their community.”

In addition to its current lineup, the library is also developing an Early Literacy program in partnership with the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. The goal of the program is to help raise awareness about the importance of early literacy for children from birth through age 5.

“We are working with the chamber to provide resources and be a champion in our community to promote early literacy,” Garrett said. “Our goal is not only to teach children to read but also help get them ready to go to school.”

More information about upcoming programs at Mid-Continent Public Libraries, including the Lee’s Summit and Colbern Road branches, is available at mymcpl.org/events.

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