Exotic birds flock to Southeast Elementary School

Friday, March 25, 2011
Swoop is an eagle-owl, the largest type of owl worldwide. Eagle-owls are also the only owls with a red pigment in their eyes. Swoop came to Wings of Love when he was three weeks old. Another owl, Talon, also made an appearance. Talon is a spectacled owl, the largest of the rainforest species. (Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)

The students at Southeast Elementary School in Marshall filed into the gym for a special show, a Wings of Love presentation.

Wings of Love, established by Yvonne Patterson of Kansas City, conducts entertaining bird shows for education. They often include owls flying across the room and macaws playing basketball or riding bikes.

Patterson entertained students Monday, March 21, in celebration of Missouri's Bird Appreciation Day. Her 41-year-old cockatoo, Snowball, inspired her to begin this organization, she said. She is a horticulturist and rainforest photojournalist, having traveled through rainforests in 21 countries.

Miss Zuri and her husband, Chelsea, are endangered hyacinth macaws. Patterson explained that their feathers don't always appear blue, but sometimes an emerald green. Chelsea is referred to as "Larry Bird" because of his basketball skills. (Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)

The gym filled with laughter at the birds' antics -- students were hysterical after Snowball took a sun visor off a boy's head and Gizmo the parrot asked, "I can talk, can you fly?"

Students also got to meet Leo, a parrot who was born blind. Patterson explained that Leo would not have survived in the wild, but his other senses are heightened, including having exceptional hearing.

Wings of Love performs for a variety of audiences, and sponsoring a bird show is 100 percent tax deductible, according to the organization.

Contact Sarah Reed at


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