Last Tuesday, Nathan Thoele of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science brought three raptors to the Milton Public Library to share with a group of eager children and their parents.

After laying down some brief ground rules and addressing basic facts about the raptors, Thoele brought out Chewonki (a red-tailed hawk), Hawaii (a peregrine falcon) and Aurora (a barn owl).

The three rescued birds thrilled spectators as they perched on Thoele’s forearm, surveying the crowd with their predatory stare and taking raw meat from their handler.

At the end of the program, Thoele fielded questions from the audience ranging from “What do raptors have in common with velociraptors?” (hint: it’s more about etymology than physiology) to “Why can’t penguins and chickens fly?” (a lot to do with conditioned physiology).

Those interested in raptors should visit the VINS website at

Photos by Ben Chiappinelli.