Something to hoot about

Tallgrass Creek neighbors learn ‘owl’ about fascinating creatures

Created date

May 28th, 2019
A roomful of attentive Tallgrass Creek neighbors watch as Operation Wildlife volunteer Jim Whinery introduces Danny, the great horned owl, to resident Suzie Dobbelaere. Operation Wildlife is an organization that rehabilitates injured creatures.

A roomful of attentive Tallgrass Creek neighbors watch as Operation Wildlife volunteer Jim Whinery introduces Danny, the great horned owl, to resident Suzie Dobbelaere. Operation Wildlife is an organization that rehabilitates injured creatures

There were “oohs and aahs” all around when a roomful of Tallgrass Creek neighbors were introduced to four wild owls during an intriguing presentation hosted by the nature club at the Overland Park, Kans., community. 

The birds and their informative handler Jim Whinery are associated with Operation Wildlife, an organization that provides rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wild animals. Community member Suzie Dobbelaere has taken “countless critters” to the organization and was responsible for scheduling the nature club adventure. 

“They do wonderful work and care so much,” says Suzie. “I love creatures and have always helped them if I can. Operation Wildlife feels the same way.” 

Face to face

The attentive audience watched as Whinery introduced McGee, the screech owl; Gizmo, the barn owl; Bardsley, the barred owl; and Danny, the great horned owl. 

As each owl perched individually on Whinery’s heavily-gloved arm, residents learned about the mysterious birds’ characteristics, habits, and rehabilitation. Whinery noted that Operation Wildlife usually handles about 500 injured creatures that either “walk, run, fly, swim, or slither.”

The organization releases about 70% of the injured creatures back into the wild after rehabilitation.

“It was a wonderful presentation,” says resident Karen Norman. “The owls were very well behaved and just fascinating. We learned so much.”

All things nature

Jean Janecek chairs the nature club, which meets monthly in the community’s Sunflower Room. This year’s packed schedule includes visits to butterfly farms, arboretums, botanical gardens, wildlife refuges, and more. Trips are open to all Tallgrass Creek neighbors who sign up with the concierge to attend.

Suzie will present her own program, “The Goose Whisperer,” later this year. She’ll share her story about a special trust she developed with the geese who lived on the lake where she and her late husband George once lived. With time and much patience from Suzie, the geese came to know and share their special lives with her. 

“They even shared their goslings with me,” says Suzie. “They’re joyful, sweet creatures and seemed to understand how much I care.”  

The nature club is only one of the 65 resident-driven activities at Tallgrass Creek. The community’s resident life staff adds to the calendar by coordinating speakers, talent and fashion shows, dinner dances, and seasonal events. 

“All in all, we have a very full calendar,” says Ellen Neyman from resident life. “You can do as little or as much as you want, but there are many great choices.”  

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