Alumnus gives wild display


Photo by: Elizabeth Floyd

Joel King poses with his juvenile red-tailed hawk, Stella.

Elizabeth Floyd, Staff Writer

An FMU alumnus used his knowledge of birds at the grand opening of Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) on Jan. 19 at West Evans St. in Florence.

The event included visiting speakers and presentations from local falconers. WBU is a birding information and supply store and acts as a community focal point in the birding community.

The event began with an introduction of the falconers and their birds of prey.

Tyler Wright, FMU Pre-Vet club vice president, was one of the two falconers present at the event. Wright had his newly trained American Kestrel, Zip, with him for the presentation. Joel King was the other falconer presenting alongside Wright.

King brought his juvenile red-tailed hawk, Stella, who did a flight demonstration for the guests of this event.  After a brief introduction and short lecture from Wright, the guests walked outdoors to observe Stella flying on a tether. The guests then returned to the WBU store for a secondary talk presented by Julia Krebs, part-time lecturer in biology at FMU, on the topic of songbirds.

Lisa Martin, co-owner of WBU with her husband and business partner Art Martin, hosted the event to bring awareness to the new part of the Florence community and fulfill franchise requirements.

“We actually opened on Nov. 9,” Martin said. “But since it was so close to retail season, we decided it would be a good idea to postpone the event and have the grand opening event after all the holidays.”

Martin was looking for someone who could do a bird demonstration when she was introduced to Wright.

“Dr. Krebs is the one who introduced me to Tyler Wright and I was like ‘Yes!’ because I had contacted the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw and I didn’t really hear back from them, so I thought it would be great to have someone local and of course Tyler was more than willing to come to the grand opening,” Martin said.

Wright said it takes everyone doing their part for the environment to help native species.

“I think this event is important because no one ever stops learning from the day they are born and songbirds are facing a lot of issues in the past few decades. Educating the community about wild birds and their food and habitat needs, so they can be aware of how they all can help take care of them, is really a big deal,” Wright said.

King said he participated in the event to educate people about falconry.

“I was excited to be invited to come to WBU because I wanted people to know more about the association and what we are doing to maintain the art of falconry in South Carolina and throughout the U.S.,” King said. “I’m thankful that WBU hosted Tyler and myself today. The community needs more events like this taking place to draw awareness to conservation for the enjoyment of wildlife for years to come.”