Eyes in the Sky is a Santa Barbara Audubon community education outreach program. It presents six native birds of prey, rehabilitated from injuries in the wild, to children and adults throughout the greater Santa Barbara area. The birds’ unique stories of survival educate about impacts of human actions on wildlife. Eyes in the Sky presents programs in classrooms, camps, after-school programs, and at community events.
As the 2019/2020 school year takes off, Santa Barbara Audubon Society is looking for the next elementary-school teacher to teach its Meet Your Wild Neighbor (MYWN) program.
years, MYWN has brought a curriculum of science education to 1st- and 2nd-grade
classrooms here in Santa Barbara. The
program visits classrooms once a week for a five-week series. Each series includes classroom visits by our
live raptors, a neighborhood bird walk, and a field trip to Lake Los
Carneros. The impact of such lessons
lasts far beyond the classroom: it’s an opportunity for young people to get
outdoors and learn hands-on in nature.
This year will see a strengthening and revitalization of our past
curriculum. SBAS is pressing forward to create new partnerships with under-served
schools in our community. Now we need a teacher to deliver the program in 1st-
and 2nd-grade classrooms.
ideal candidate is an experienced elementary school teacher, passionate about
conservation, and excited to lead experiential lessons in nature. If you are
interested, please contact Eyes In the Sky program director Hannah Atkinson at
Eyes in the Sky volunteers are dedicated group of over 40 community members from all walks of life. Some have never worked with birds before; others have extensive experience.
All our raptor-handler volunteers are primarily educators. They are the public face of Eyes in the Sky and Santa Barbara Audubon, engaging the public in educational presentations throughout the Santa Barbara area.
Many of our volunteers have been with us for many years and volunteer one or two afternoons per week. We ask most volunteers to choose a set day of the week on which to consistently give their time. This makes it possible for each of our birds to get quality outdoor time and personal attention seven days a week.
We provide introductory and on-the-job training in raptor care and presentation skills to all our volunteers. Each day’s volunteer shift is led by a Shift Lead—a head volunteer with a wealth of experience and skill.
Volunteer positions that do not relate to raptor handling or educational presentations—such as positions to create written or digital content, assist with classroom materials, etc.—are intermittently available. Compared to a raptor-handling role, these “project-based” positions do not have as stringent attendance requirements.
Eyes in the Sky offers three main types of programs:
“Greeting” style of presentation, where attendees can meet the birds and handlers up-close at their own preferred pace. More than one bird may be presented at a time. Attendees are engaged one-on-one or in small groups, and the presentation style leaves ample space for question-and-answer, discussion, and personalized learning.
Events with a larger attendee count
Events where multiple activities or engagement opportunities are available at the same time
Events with a more flexible timetable, where guests can arrive or leave at different times
“Lecture” style of presentation, where attendees are gathered into one place to receive a handler-directed presentation. This style of presentation helps to standardize the learning experience in a classroom or other education-based setting. Birds are usually presented one-by-one, to give emphasis to each species and story examined.
Events for organized groups, such as classrooms or clubs
Events that focus on one activity at a time
Events with a more concrete timetable and attentive audience
A “Course Series” consisting of several successive presentations. For example, Eyes in the Sky runs the Meet Your Wild Neighbor (MYWN) program, which brings a series of 5 one-hour learning sessions to local elementary school classrooms. Classes run by Eyes in the Sky follow curriculum specifically designed by experienced, credentialed teachers for the grade level targeted. MYWN curriculum typically complies with standards of STEM learning such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Eyes in the Sky employs a dedicated MYWN Teacher, and all new potential engagements are reviewed by a volunteer MYWN Committee. Because each Course Series is tailored to the specific audience and entails substantial staff and volunteer hours, we have limited capacity to take on new Course Series each academic year.
Max is a Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus). Great horned owls are the largest owls found in North America. If you hear the hooting “hoo, hoo, hoo” of an owl at night, you are most likely hearing a Great horned owl.
Max’s disability is that he is imprinted: he thinks he is human, or that humans are owls. As a baby, Max fell out of the nest. He was rescued and raised by humans, and because he never knew his owl parents, he never learned how to “be an owl.” Unfortunately, imprinting is irreversible.
Despite his behavioral disability, Max has become a dedicated foster-parent for other orphaned owlets, and so far has raised 76 young owlets for release back into the wild.
Max was born and adopted in 1998.
Ivan is a Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), one of the most commonly visible raptors in the Santa Barbara area. In fact, Red-tailed hawks are common throughout the United States. They are adaptable hunters, and can search for prey from atop a high perch (such as a telephone pole) or from a soar. Their wings are specially adapted to allow for easy, low-effort soaring. If you see a raptor soaring very high up, in wide circles, it may be a Red-tailed hawk.
Ivan was found next to HWY 166 near New Cuyama; he was injured by a car while attempting to catch prey running across the highway. The impact caused a wing fracture and blindness in one eye.
Ivan was a full adult with a red tail when he arrived, so his true age is unknown. Because Red-tailed hawks’ tail feathers turn red when they are 2 years old, we know he was at least 2 years old when he was adopted in 1998.
Kisa is a Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrines), the fastest animal on the planet. Peregrines are specially adapted to hunt other birds on the wing: they can dive at speeds greater than 250 miles per hour.
Kisa was found in Rancho Palos Verdes, several hours south of Santa Barbara. She had been shot with a pellet gun, and still has a pellet embedded in her shoulder to this day. Unfortunately, this means she is entirely unable to fly.
Kisa came to EITS in 2011.
Athena is a Barn owl (Tyto Alba), known for their heart-shaped faces and pale coloration. If you hear an owl hooting at night, it is not a barn owl– they screech!
While hunting by a roadside, Athena was hit by a car. She lost her eyesight in one eye, and now has depth perception problems that cause her to miss her perches, meaning that she would also miss much of her prey.
Athena’s age is unknown – our guess is that she was around 2 years old when adopted in 2012.
Kanati is a male American kestrel (Falco sparverius), the smallest species of falcon in North America. Kestrels are special in that they can hover perfectly in place– which is how they find and catch mice in the grassy fields below.
Kanati was hit by a car in the wild, when he was approximately two months old. His right wing was badly damaged, causing a permanent imbalance of his wings.
Kanati came to EITS in 2011.
Puku is a Western screech owl(Otus kennicotii), one of the smallest owl species in North America. Funnily enough, Western screech owls do not screech; instead, they make a soft burbling noise.
Puku is the only bird that is with us due to natural causes. She caught an eye infection in the wild, and it took away almost all of her eyesight, leaving her only with about 25% of vision in one eye. By the time she was found, her eyesight could not be restored.
Puku is the Chumash name for the Western screech owl: it translates into “little gray owl.” Puku has been with EITS since 2011.
If you are interested in booking a program with our birds, please see the “Programs” page.
Eyes in the Sky (EITS) has been Santa Barbara Audubon’s key wildlife education program since 2000. It features six birds of prey that serve as education ambassadors: three owls, two falcons, and a hawk.
The EITS birds are in our care because they cannot survive in the wild. From blindness to broken wings, each bird had to be rescued because of a permanent disability.
EITS is the only licensed raptor education program in Santa Barbara County. We bring up-close educational experiences to community members of all ages, from all walks of life. The birds’ unique stories of survival share a message about the impact that we as humans have on the lives of our “wild neighbors.” Our goal is to foster respect and understanding for these wild species and their habitats.
EITS has only one paid staff member; it is largely run by over 40 volunteers who care for the birds and present them to the public. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities, please see the “Volunteers” tab above.
The EITS birds are presented most days of the week at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum from 2:00 – 4:00pm. For further information on display times and locations, please see below.
The EITS birds are also presented in private educational programs. The majority of EITS’s offsite programs take place in public elementary schools, after-school programs, and community centers. EITS’s focus is on educating children in our lower-income areas, where children have few opportunities to engage with nature and wildlife. If you are interested in a private program, please see the “Programs” tab above.
Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 2:00 – 4:00 pm At the Museum of Natural History’s Main Campus, under the Oak Tree.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 2:00 – 4:00 pm In the Museum of Natural History’s Backyard.
Tuesday: Away from the Aviary On Tuesdays, the birds take a rest from the crowds.
Address: Audubon Aviary Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 2559 Puesta del Sol Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Thank you all, for your support – in all its shapes and forms!
Come join us at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for the third annual Eyes In The Sky Open House. This year marks the 5th anniversary of the aviary and the 15th anniversary of the program itself.
A post on last year’s SB Birding listserv caught my eye: “Eyes In The Sky’s” Director, Gabriele Drozdowski was asking for volunteer birders to open up the shutters of the newly-built aviary in the morning, to let the birds greet the day – and to also interpret the birds to Museum visitors in the mornings. The aviary is located in the museum’s “Back Yard”, an oak woodland behind McVeigh House, where a variety of wild birds also live.
Santa Barbara Audubon Society is very pleased that The Santa Barbara Independent chose Gabriele Drozdowski as one of its local heroes. If there’s anyone who deserves it, it’s Gabriele! She has worked tirelessly to make Audubon’s Eyes in the Sky (EITS) program the success that it is. Audubon is proud to have raised the money, through extensive efforts of its board and members, to build the aviary for the EITS raptors at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
Several hundred visitors, both locals and from out of town, celebrated with Audubon and The Museum of Natural History at EITS’ first annual Aviary Open House on September 8th. Families enjoyed the many events spread throughout SBMNH’s campus that took place between 12 noon and 4 PM. … Continue Reading