"Talons at Tallgrass," an educational program featuring four of Milton-based Hoo's Woods Raptor Center's educational birds -- "Victory E.," a bald eagle; "Clark," a barred owl; "Dandy," a broad-winged hawk, and "Spark," a Merlin falcon -- was held Saturday, Sept. 5, at Tallgrass Restoration, 3129 E. County Road N. The birds were presented to some 50 enthusiasts who were also treated to a kestrel falcon release and a hike along mowed trails in the 250-acre Tallgrass prairie.

Peter Layton, owner of Tallgrass Restoration along with his wife, Meg, also gave a presentation about the restorative value of returning land to prairie and the work done by the company.

Four kestrels, which came into the care of the center after being retrieved from "a dangerous situation" in late July, according to the center's Facebook page, were released by four area youths, all of whom had been acquainted with Hoo's Woods programming and had expressed an interest in raptors, Hood's Woods Director Dianne Moller said.

The idea to create an opportunity for children to participate in a raptor release was given to Moller by her grandson, Edison Croft, she said, who, while helping at the center, asked when he would be old enough to release a bird. He told Moller that he thought other children would want to release birds, too. Kestrels are small birds within the raptor family, making them easier for children to handle, Moller said.

Children releasing the birds included: Kayla Rowe, 11, a Fort Atkinson school district student, and Croft, 6, Kayleigh Roberts, 9, and Aiden Sullivan, 10, all of whom attend school within the Milton school district. 

 The kestrels, "Clover," "Jack in the pulpit," "Blazing Star," and "Lily," were named through a contest held in August. The birds were estimated at just over eight weeks old upon their release. 

Pictures from the day's events follow. 

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