It is rare to find a man who hunts with golden eagles. Isaiah is one of the eagles. He will be at the Kansas Wildlife Education Center's Great Migration Rally on Sunday, April 13, northeast of Great Bend on Kansas Highway 156, at the edge of the Cheyenne Bottoms wetlands.
The rally, 2 to 7 p.m., is one of the KWEC's premier events this spring. Isaiah and his owner, Wichita falconer Nate Mathews, and the Celtic folk band Tumnus will be featured with craft activities and dinner.
The Migration Rally's afternoon highlight is its own migration, in the form of a card game -- "kind of like a modified poker run," said Center Manager Curtis Wolf -- conducted through Cheyenne Bottoms. Players will migrate through the wetlands by car to win prizes.
Participants draw their birds from the deck and follow the map. At each pre-determined stop, a player draws a scenario card, which will either give points or take points depending on whether the scenario helps or hinders the migration of the players particular bird. High scorers will win outdoor-related prizes from sponsors such as Cabela's. The top prize this year is a trail camera used to view and record wildlife.
Mathews, Isaiah's hunting partner, will tell the story of how he and Isaiah came together and then lost each other when Isaiah flew off on a hunt one day and didn't come back. More than a year later, Isaiah was found in Arizona. Mathews nursed Isaiah back to health, and now they hunt small game together again.
Dinner will be served while Tumnus performs. On the menu is "ham, macaroni and cheese, and biscuits," said Wolf. The dinner is included in the ticket price, and participants are asked to preregister by April 6. Ticket prices are $5 for adults, $2.50 for children 5-12, and free for children 4 and younger.
On Sunday, April 6, Paul Griffin, a birder and videographer from Wichita, will present his video, "10 Snowy Owls," at 3:30 p.m. In 2011, Griffin followed owls in Kansas as they migrated south. See what these beautiful creatures did while in Kansas. This event is free and open to all ages, no registration required.
The KWEC is managed by Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
For additional information or to register, call the KWEC at 1-877-243-9268 or visit wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.