Sunshine and I have been friends for over twenty years.
Because of my degree in zoology and my experience working at the Cornell University Hawk Barn, I was able to qualify for the necessary permits to become Sunshine’s caretaker. I spent many hours training Sunshine, and together we have given hundreds of presentations in schools, parks and libraries, educating thousands of people about the importance of protecting birds in the wild.
When I adopted Sunshine, I made a serious commitment to care for her knowing that hawks can live for over 30 years in captivity. I’m guessing she was around three years old when I adopted her because she had the red tail of an adult but the pale yellow eyes of a juvenile.
Sunshine finds favorite perching places all over the yard and we spend time together every day. Over time Sunshine and I have learned to communicate through body language so that I can tell if she is hot or cold, hungry, irritated, bored, excited, relaxed or ready to go to sleep in her aviary.
Sunshine teaches me to be more patient and observant. She gives a rasping call to let me know if a cat is in the yard. She turns an eye to the sky and I suddenly notice a golden eagle soaring overhead. She alerts me to a lizard on the trunk of a tree by staring at it.
Adopting Sunshine has transformed my life, and I am happy that I was able to enrich her life by helping her become a mother. Each spring, I still help Sunshine build a nest and incubate eggs.