‘Eagle Lady’ Doris Mager celebrates birds of prey with Highland Lakes programs

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

HOOVER’S VALLEY — Though Doris Mager is in her mid-80s, she shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to sharing her love for birds of prey.

“She’s just an incredible woman whose mission is to share how important these birds are,” said Phil Wyde of the Friends of Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery and a Highland Lakes Master Naturalist. “She goes around the country and tries to get people to appreciate these birds.”

Mager is presenting two birds of prey programs in the Highland Lakes on Dec. 28. The first is 10 a.m. at the Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery, 345 Clay Young Road just off Park Road 4 West. The second is 1 p.m. at Inks Lake State Park, 3630 Park Road 4 West.

The fish hatchery show is free. The state park program also is free, but there is a park entrance fee of $6 per person for ages 13 and older. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.

In addition to the two programs, Mager will lead an Owl Prowl on Dec. 27 at the state park. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. at the amphitheater. Mager will share facts about owls and then lead participants on a short hike to see how many owls they can find.

In addition to the park entrance fee, there is a $3 cost for the Owl Prowl.

Mager doesn’t travel alone, so if you’re expecting just a talk about birds, you’re in for a great treat. Mager, who began rehabilitating birds of prey more than 50 years ago through Florida Audubon Society, brings several non-releasable raptors with her.

“It’s one thing to see a photo in a book or watch something on TV, but it’s really something special when you actually get to see the birds up close,” Wyde said. “And I think seeing the birds there and seeing them fly really makes a much bigger impression on kids, and even adults.”

During the program, Mager will showcase three birds with which she travels: a great horned owl, a screech owl and an American kestrel.

“You should see the look on a kid’s face when one of the birds lands on them,” Wyde said.

Along with a flying demonstration, Mager will explain the importance of these types of birds. She’s been a strong advocate for the raptors and continues to travel the country in her van with her birds.

In 1983, she founded Save Our American Raptors, a nonprofit organization focused on education children and adults about birds of prey. While Mager worked tirelessly to rehabilitate raptors brought to her because of injury or other problems and then return them to the wild, some just couldn’t be released. So, she uses those particular raptors to spread the message of their wild relatives’ plight.

“If you’ve never seen her program, it’s worth seeing,” Wyde said. “Even those who’ve seen it before will still enjoy it and probably learn something new.”

Contact Wyde at (325) 388-8692 or prwyde@gmail.com for more information on the hatchery show or the Friends group. Call Sean Jones at (512) 793-4689 for information on the Inks Lakes State Park program or Owl Prowl.

daniel@thepicayune.com