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Masters of the Sky program comes to Carpenter Nature Center

Chrys, a long-crested eagle, was never supposed to come to the U.S.

Long-crested eagles are native to Africa, and that's where Chrys was hatched. But as an adult, he was trapped and brought to this country illegally, to be sold for the black market pet trade back in the 1980s. The dealers who had captured him cut off the crest his breed is named for in an attempt to get the bird past the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Cutting a bird's feathers doesn't cause pain, explained Teri Graves, educational director for the World Bird Sanctuary. And luckily, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the eagle for what it was and confiscated him. Often, a captured animal like Chrys can't be returned to its native wild habitat because of the stress it endured and the potential diseases it's been exposed to, Graves said, so after he was confiscated, Chrys was given to the World Bird Sanctuary. This weekend, Hastings area residents will get to meet Chrys in person. He's one of nine birds visiting the Carpenter Nature Center in the Masters of the Sky program.

Masters of the Sky features birds of prey from around the world. The World Bird Sanctuary is holding the hour-long program in partnership with Carpenter Nature Center. The birds will be brought out individually and shown to the audience up close. Three of them will fly back and forth over the audience's heads: a Harris hawk from the southwestern U.S., a hooded vulture from Africa and a barn owl, which will show the audience the meaning of silent flight.

"The ability to use live animals in educational programs leaves a lasting impression," Graves said.

There's something about getting to see the birds in person and up-close that inspires people to want to learn more about animals and, in turn, the environment, she said. Ultimately, the goal of the Masters of the Sky program is to leave people with a desire to make a difference for the environment.

"It can only help in making a difference for the animals we share this world with," she said.

The World Bird Sanctuary will present public programs at Carpenter Nature Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Programs in area Minnesota and Wisconsin schools are also scheduled for March 1 and 4.

Tickets for the public shows are $10 per person or $7 for "Friends of CNC." Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP ahead of time by calling 651-437-4359. Carpenter Nature Center is located at 12805 St. Croix Trail, north of Hastings.

This event is sponsored by 3M and the Hastings Lions Club.