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Soaring over your head--a barn owl!

Walter C. Crawford Jr., founder of the World Bird Sanctuary, posing with Tips, a red-tailed hawk, will be at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center Sunday. Submitted photo

On Sunday, March 8, visitors to the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center's Minnesota campus will have the rare opportunity to meet a variety of owl species from around the world.

The program "All About Owls" will be presented by World Bird Sanctuary founding director Walter C. Crawford Jr. and will include appearances by several owl species as well as a free-flying demonstration by a European barn owl. 

There are more than 200 different species of owls on earth including the Eurasian Eagle owl, knicknamed the tiger of the sky. It can bring down Roe deer, a small variety weighing from 33 to 66 pounds.

Crawford grew up in Venezuela, where his father worked as a field engineer for a petroleum company. The exotic birds in the jungles of South America caught the his attention and his interest in them eventually led Crawford to his life's work -- the propagation, rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of birds, especially birds of prey.

A Vietnam veteran, he received a bachelor's degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a master's degree from Mississippi State University. After joining the staff of the St. Louis Zoological Park, he was recognized by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums for the first captive breeding of the Bateleur eagle.

In 1977, with the blessing and support of the Zoo's Director Emeritus, Marlin Perkins, Crawford founded what eventually came to be known as the World Bird Sanctuary. In 1982 he left the zoo to work full-time at the sanctuary. Today the sanctuary is one of North America's largest conservation facilities for birds.

"I am fortunate to be able to do what I love in life and I am always pleased to share my interests and passion for wildlife and this planet with anyone who is willing to listen," said Crawford.

The World Bird Sanctuary is a not-for-profit tax exempt organization located in St. Louis, whose mission is to preserve the earth's biological diversity and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. The sanctuary employs a full time staff of 35 and hires approximately 25 part time employees each year.

The program is Sunday, March 8 at 1 p.m. and reservations are required. The cost is $8 for non-members and $5 for members. From more information or to make a reservation call (651)437-4359 or visit their website at

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center is located at 12805 St. Croix Trail just across the river from Prescott.

For more information about the World Bird Sanctuary visit their website at