In Good Hands - for teachers
Behind the Scenes at a Center for
Orphaned and Injured Birds
Photographs by Steve Swinburne.
Published by Sierra Club Books, 1998
With their piercing eyes and powerful wings,
raptors – hawks, eagles, owls, and other birds
of prey – command humans’ respect and
awe. Yet because of people’s carelessness, along
with everyday perils of field and forest, these magnificent
birds are sometimes injured or orphaned. Those fortunate
enough to be found near the Vermont Raptor Center
– and other places like it around the country
– get expert help. In the capable and caring
hands of volunteers such as young Hannah Regier, many
of these birds are nursed back to health and eventually
In this engaging photo essay, author-photographer
Stephen R. Swinburne takes readers behind the scenes
at the center. Through Hannah’s eyes, readers
will gain a new appreciation for these fascinating
birds and will share her quiet satisfaction when they
are able to return to the wild.
How I was inspired:
As a naturalist, I was curious about a place that
cares for injured birds less than an hour by car from
where I live. I visited the Raptor Center at the Vermont
Institute of Natural Science many times and spent
a lot of time looking at beautiful birds of prey such
as snowy owls, bald eagles and peregrine falcons.
I eventually developed the idea for IN GOOD HANDS,
a book that takes readers behind the scenes of a raptor
- Full-color photographs of fascinating birds of
- List of all North American raptors
- Factual sidebars about birds of prey including
“Equipped for Hunting;” “Owl’s
Amazing Hearing;” “Top of the Food Chain;”
History and Social Studies
- Imagine you’re a chicken farmer in the 1950’s.
Describe how you feel about having hawks and owls
around your farm.
- Falconry is a sport that dates back thousands
of years. Describe its history.
Science and Math
- Write a brief report about bird banding. Create a
graph showing the number of birds banded since banding
began in 1920.
- From the owl’s viewpoint, write the story
of its rescue, rehabilitation and release to the world.
- Write a poem using at least 10 names of North American
- Imagine you’re the New York Times book reviewer.
Write a review of IN GOOD HANDS.
- Play a predator-prey game. Pretend half the class
is predators, the other half, prey. What adaptations
do predators have for hunting? What adaptations
do prey species have to escape from being hunted?
Chart student responses.
- Listen to a tape of owls hooting. Practice hooting.
Gather at night for an owl walk. Play the owl tape
and try hooting to see if you can attract a real
owl. How many owl calls can you make?
- Visit a nearby raptor center and write a report
about your trip.
- Using the library and the Internet as research
tools, find out how many birds of prey in the United
States are threatened or endangered. Write a report
of your findings.
- Create a food chain of a meadow or park nearby
your school; of the ocean; of the desert; of the
- Test your memory. Study the list of raptors on
page 8. How many raptors do you know?
- Draw pictures of hawks, eagles, owls and falcons.
Cut them out and hang them from dowels or coat hangers
to make hawk mobiles.
- Take a walk near your school and make a list
of all the birds you can see.
- Make a chart that shows where the raptors fit
into the food chain.