Cat Krosschell is making it her mission to get others to love her birds of prey.
She has been immersed in country since day one, growing up on a cattle ranch just north of Clovis, and has always had a love of oak woodlands and its wildlife inhabitants.
The Clovis High graduate has been married to husband Terry for 22 years and has three children: Dylan, who is a soil scientist; Tristan, an organic chemist; and Xiao Yu Lin, her adopted 13-year-old daughter from China, an 8th grader at Computech. Xiao’s name in Chinese translates to “little rainforest.” Krosschell’s children have seemingly inherited her conservation mentality.
After working for years as a customer service and general sales rep for General Cable, Krosschell retired from her first career and pursued her passion for nature and wildlife conservation. She trained as a docent volunteer at the Chaffee Zoo, San Joaquin River Parkway and Sierra Foothill Conservancy and is currently on staff at Scout Island, the Fresno County Office of Education’s Science location.
“I now work in the field that I really love,” Krosschell said. “I grew up out in the country. Birds and land have always meant a lot to me and once I had the opportunity to return to it, I did.”
Krosschell is also a master falconer with additional licenses for education with wildlife and has her own Birds of Prey naturalist education business. Between her work as a docent/teacher at Scout Island and presentations through Birds of Prey, it is essentially back to full-time work. She is known by many as the “bird lady” as she makes her presentations with a bird or two in hand and bags of wildlife bones and owl pellets.
She obtained her falconry license by serving as an apprentice for two years and is now considered a master falconer with more than five years of experience working with the birds. As a master, she is allowed to have four birds; her owl and hawk were raised from babies and the falcon was acquired as a juvenile.
Krosschell brings three birds to presentations: a Red-tailed Hawk, a Great Horned Owl and a Peregrine Falcon. All of the birds are fit with a bracelet fastened to leg jesses attached to a leash, which is then attached to her glove so they can’t fly. In their home environment, they are free lofted with each bird in its own high ceilinged cage.
“People are able to see these birds up close and personal at the presentations,” she said. “I educate them about how they are native to this area, what they eat, and their hunting methods and how development has affected their population. I hope to inspire people to continue to protect them and give them the open space they need in order to survive.”
The presentations give insight into the raptor’s adaptations, behaviors and flight characteristics and highlight the birds as significant indicators of ecosystem health. The Peregrine Falcon can dive at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour on another bird in flight, killing its victim with the force of its impact and snatching it in midair with its talons. The Great Horned Owl is a nocturnal hunter with keen night vision and acute hearing.
At home, Krosschell has a menagerie. She raises rats to feed the birds, as they are raptors and eat meat. She needs 120 rats each month to keep the four birds happy and well fed. Krosschell also has a labradoodle, a mutt, three cats, some hens and a large English garden.
She has given presentations to groups small and large, including retirement homes, libraries and schools. For urban students, personal interaction with these raptors and live discussions are a rare glimpse into nature and pique their interest in discovering local habitats, adaptations and encroaching environmental concerns threatening these wild animals and wild lands.
Mainly, Krosschell wants to share her passion for these natural and beautiful birds and encourage young and old to practice environmental stewardship.
“Maybe that information will encourage businesses to help organizations that preserve land and conserve wildlife,” she said. “Knowledge is the key; the more you know, the more you care.”
For more information on presentations and to see photos, go to the Birds of Prey Facebook page.
By Carol Lawson-Swezey