(Wren House Brewing Company's Blondie IPA is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, March 17th at noon, and will be available while supplies last! Be sure to grab some before she dips back into her burrow!)
Audubon’s niche in the conservation community is putting people to action. Be it through policy engagement, community science, or hands-on restoration work, we connect those who want to make a difference for birds and their habitats with opportunities to do so. So, how do we do our work in the reality we’ve been facing for the last year, with community events postponed and volunteer opportunities smaller, fewer, and further between?
The same way we always do – meeting volunteers where they’re at, collaborating with community partners, and putting the birds that motivate the work up front and center. This time around, it was Wren House Brewing Company and one of our most famous relocated Burrowing Owls, U-9, that came to the rescue.
It was late 2020 when Ryder Moreno, a Space Physics major in his senior year at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, came across U-9, a relocated owl named for the number/letter code on his identifying leg band that. After a short stint at Wild at Heart’s rehabilitation facility, U-9 was relocated to a volunteer-installed site in Maricopa, about 40 miles south of Phoenix. Scrolling through his Instagram feed, Ryder found himself eye-to-golden eye with this charismatic owl. He was looking at an advertisement for U-9 Lager, a collaborative brew crafted by Wren House Brewing Company. U-9 stands tall on the cans of his namesake brew. He is perched atop a Phoenix freeway sign with the city’s skyline behind him. With his head cocked inquisitively to the side and his eyes aglow, he seems to beckon the drinker to dig deeper.
Fortunately for Burrowing Owls like U-9, Ryder did just that. He soon discovered that U-9 Lager was more than just a great, local craft beer. It was a call for help, and one that Ryder was excited to answer. Ryder has ambitions to pursue a career in ornithology and conservation, but until now hadn’t been involved in any conservation efforts. Thanks to U-9, he’s now spending his free time volunteering at Wild at Heart – cleaning aviaries, feeding the rescued birds that they house, and assisting in the field with Wild at Heart’s efforts to safely remove Burrowing Owls from hazardous locations (these birds eventually find new homes through efforts like Downtown Owls).
When commenting on his time at Wild at Heart, Ryder says that “working with these birds has been some of the most rewarding work I've had so far”. He’s inspired by the effect that Burrowing Owl relocation efforts have on individuals and communities, remarking that “…people love seeing these birds and I love seeing the excitement in people's eyes when they know a new family of owls will be living nearby.”
COVID-19 has made it harder than ever to connect with new volunteers, but not impossible. With partners like Wren House helping us launch opportunities into the community and with future conservation leaders like Ryder just waiting to be discovered, we know that we can continue putting folks to work for birds and their habitats no matter what comes our way.
(Are you inspired by Ryder’s commitment to Burrowing Owls and looking to make a difference, too? Join him in his efforts and sign up to participate in Audubon Southwest’s Downtown Owls program today!)