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Animal rehab expert brings birds to Coronado
Taken from the Hot Springs Village Voice
by JEFF MEEK Outdoor writer
January 14, 2009

If you were not at the Coronado Center last Friday morning, you missed a rare treat.

Animal rehabilitator expert Tommy Young, along with friends Wendell Thomas and Paul Bailey, showed three magnificent birds to the 160 folks in attendance.

The Village Audubon Society invited Young to their first meeting of 2009. It was a repeat visit for Young who has been in the business of saving wildlife for 26 years.

He began his love of animals at age six when he got very interested in birds of prey and also started to catch snakes.

"I was enjoying birds when birds weren't cool," said Young.

He got into studying reptiles, then mammals and now birds.

Audubon society member Clint Sowards helped Young get started over 20 years ago when he got Young involved in a correspondence course.

Young talked passionately about the birds and other animals he has worked with. He explained that he is not always successful and some animals do die despite his tender loving care. When that happens, it's a hard pill to swallow.

At left: Wendell Thomas with a subspecies of red tail hawk. At left: Wendell Thomas with a subspecies of red tail hawk. "You get very attached," said Young.

During his 75-minute presentation, Young talked about different species of hawks, new species of birds starting to show up in Arkansas, bird feathers and how these birds hunt their prey.

Young and his friends brought three birds to show: a subspecies of red tail hawk, a rare Eurasian eagle owl and a remarkable Ferruginous hawk.

The Eurasian eagle owl is the largest owl in the world and comes from Europe and Asia. It can reach up to 9.5 pounds in weight and 30 inches in length.

The one displayed by Bailey was a small male. The female can be twice as big.

They can actually kill and devour eagles at night as well as raccoons and large dogs.

"It can fly 45 to 50 miles an hour when it hits its game," said Young. This can cause the spine of the victim to break. Its talons are larger than a jaguar's talons.

At right: A beautiful Eurasian eagle owl which has a wingspan of up to 79 inches. At right: A beautiful Eurasian eagle owl which has a wingspan of up to 79 inches. Thomas showed the red tail hawk. This bird can have a wingspan of up to 57 inches and, like all hawks, is an excellent hunter.

The Ferruginous hawk's wingspan is 48 to 60 inches, and its colors are fantastic. The beautifully colored feet on this bird almost looked fake.

To see these birds from only a few feet away was a unique experience, and many people with cameras took the chance to photograph all three birds.

Young has done other important work.

He has collected solid evidence of the existence of mountain lions in Arkansas. He turned his data over to the Arkansas Game and Fish. They did not agree.

Young thinks the reason is that if a state has a mountain lion population, it can cost up to $18 million dollars to restore habitat for the animal.

After the presentation, Young released birds back into the wild outside the Coronado Center as about 50 onlookers enjoyed the action.

This wildlife rehabilitator has a big goal and, seeing the passion he has for the work, it's only a matter of time until it happens.

He wants to have a wildlife hospital to help save injured creatures big and small.

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