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'Whooo' visited Stafford?

First-graders enjoy visit with two raptors after student wins raffle prize


The “O” was for “owl” at Stafford Primary School when Misty, a great-horned owl, visited first-grade students Nov. 20.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSH KULLA - About 100 first-graders at Stafford Primary School got to meet Misty Nov. 20.
Misty brought two guests with her to the school. The first was Jinx, an American kestrel, the smallest true falcon in America. The second was Alina Blankenship, a licensed falconer who works with American Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing medical and rehabilitation to injured Oregon wildlife.

Blankenship is licensed by the state to hunt with birds. She rehabilitates injured animals, teaching them to hunt with their disabilities, and then releases them into the wild. The goal is to treat and release the birds.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSH KULLA - Alina Blankenship holds Misty, a great horned owl who serves as an education bird.Misty, unfortunately, will never be released. She was hit by a car eight years ago and suffered severe brain damage. Blankenship said Misty no longer flies or exhibits predatory instincts, so she is unable to survive in the wild. Misty now lives as an education animal. She travels to schools, camps and events, earning money through her appearances that goes to feed and care for other injured and recovering animals.

“This is a way we can bring money back into the program,” Blankenship said.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSH KULLA - Mason Blatner, first-grader and raffle winner, enjoyed an up-close view.A visit by the birds was offered as a raffle prize at the West Linn Old Time Fair this summer. Mason Blatner, now a first-grader at Stafford, bought two tickets and won.

He enjoyed sharing his raffle prize with his classmates, he said. He especially enjoyed occupying a privileged position during the presentation, sitting next to Misty onstage and staring into the owl’s eyes.

“I know that was a great horned owl, because I have a book with every kind of bird,” Mason said.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSH KULLA - Misty is a great horned owl who was injured by a car and is no longer able to survive on her own. Blankenship shared owl facts with the first-graders, telling them that the great horned owl is the most common owl in North America.

They live in trees, are known for their distinctive “hoot” call and, despite their reputation for wisdom, have brains that aren’t much bigger than their eyes.

Although the children listened attentively, it was clear that their attention was riveted on the bird in their midst.

“It’s just one or two kids that just transform,” Blankenship said. “It just transforms their life to have close contact.”

Mason may have been one of those whose lives were changed. He wanted to work with birds as a career, he said.

“I want to help birds that are endangered,” he said.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSH KULLA - Jinx, an American kestrel, visited Stafford Primary School Nov. 20 along with Misty.To learn more about American Wildlife Foundation’s Close Encounters program, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To schedule a visit, contact Blankenship at 503-969-6119.

Kate Hoots can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and at 503-636-1281, ext. 112. Follow her on Twitter @CommuniKater.



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