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      Lending a hand to a feathery friend

      Phoenix, the peregrine falcon
      Young students may get introduced to some feathery friends this fall. The Chocolay Raptor Center, a non-profit organization, rehabilitates injured wild birds, and they hope to use these birds to educate kids.

      Phoenix is still getting used to being tied to a glove, but he's learning. He's a peregrine falcon that hatched at the WE Energies Presque Isle Power Plant in 2011. In fact, he is a part of the first batch of birds to hatch at the plant, making him among the first peregrine falcons to hatch in the U.P. in about 50 years.

      Last August, he was found dying at Mattson Park in Marquette's Lower Harbor. Jerry Maynard and Bob Jensen of the Chocolay Raptor Center stepped in. They rehabilitate injured raptors or birds of prey.

      "Humans are responsible for most of the injuries and problems that most of these wild birds have, so it's what we can do," said Maynard.

      On Thursday, visitors brought in another patient named George the Grouse.

      "If they can do it in a pen here and then be turned back to the wild, I think that's wonderful," said Alex Barna from Negaunee who rescued George the Grouse with his wife. They say they found him injured on the side of the road.

      Phoenix is the first bird they've cared for, but they've also taken in others, like Bilbo, an eastern screech owl from Lower Michigan. Bilbo and Phoenix are both blind in one eye and can't hunt for themselves, and, therefore, can't be released back into the wild.

      Phoenix spends most of his time in a cage, but it's a little small. The Raptor Center plans to build four bigger cages to care for more birds and to create a better environment.

      "When we get him in his bigger cage, he'll be happy," Maynard said while holding Phoenix.

      Phoenix and Bilbo are now healthy. If they become more comfortable around humans, Maynard and Jensen will bring them into schools and to any other event where there is interest to educate about birds and other wildlife.

      "We're real happy to do it. It's a wonderful thing that we can do, and we just love the birds," said Jensen.

      Learn more about the Chocolay Raptor Center on their Facebook page.