When Matt Edmonds hosts one of his “Wonders of Nature” shows, he strives to make sure the only thing that goes over kids’ heads is a hawk named Jedi.
A capacity crowd of kids and parents filled the library’s meeting room Tuesday morning for the educational show, where Edmonds and some of his feathered friends teamed up to teach kids the basics of ornithology.
Tuesday’s show featured a yellow-naped Amazon parrot named Moby, a green aracari toucan named Turbo, a red-legged seriama named Bam-Bam, a galah parrot named Copernicus and an augur buzzard named Jedi. Each bird was brought out for Edmonds to illustrate different points. For example, while a young volunteer named Blake held a perch for Copernicus to fly up to, Edmonds explained why parrots’ eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads and how that allows them to escape from airborne predators. Bam-Bam violently throwing a rubber snake to the ground was a demonstration of how some birds use unconventional methods to subdue their prey and get a meal. As Jedi swooped over the heads of the audience, Edmonds explained how the word “buzzard” has been incorrectly used to describe vultures in North America for more than five centuries.
“When the pilgrims came to North America, they started calling our vultures ‘buzzards’ because they looked the same,” Edmonds said. “And then the name stuck. So Americans normally call vultures ‘buzzards,’ but that’s technically incorrect. Vultures eat dead stuff. Buzzards and hawks catch their prey alive.”
Edmonds has performed around Tampa Bay for 18 years and puts on roughly 200 demonstrations a year, by his own estimate. He is a former zookeeper with 27 years of experience training animals of all shapes, sizes and species. For more information about the shows, visit mewondersofnature.com.