river talk

Taking flight

By SANDY LONG
Posted 12/9/20

Having helped countless birds resume their wild lives, the woman whose long “fascination with the feather” led to an impactful life as a bird rehabilitator and conservationist has herself …

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river talk

Taking flight

Posted

Having helped countless birds resume their wild lives, the woman whose long “fascination with the feather” led to an impactful life as a bird rehabilitator and conservationist has herself been released. Stephanie Streeter, co-founder of the nonprofit Delaware Valley Raptor Center (DVRC) of Milford, PA, died on Thanksgiving Day after dedicating her life to the well-being of the birds of prey she deeply loved.

“I followed my bliss,” Stephanie told Mary Olmsted Greene during an interview for Greene’s book, “Women Outside: Conversations About Nature, Art and Spirit.” And despite “long hours, no private life and low wages,” she added, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Her partner on this path has been Stephanie’s cherished husband, Bill Streeter. His hugely popular presentations continue to educate untold numbers of people about the conservation of the iconic avian species with whom we share our lives in the Upper Delaware River region: bald eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, barred owls (a favorite of Stephanie’s) and many more. His work has been effective in awakening wonder and a sense of stewardship for these birds of prey, whose fragile existence is threatened by encounters with cars and windows, gunshot wounds, poisoning, starvation and habitat loss.  

After attending a program on birds of prey in 1979, the couple was “blown away” at the prospects of working with birds. At age 31, Stephanie became the second licensed female falconer in Massachusetts and Bill became a falconer a year later. They also became licensed wildlife rehabilitators, opening their first rehab facility in Massachusetts before returning to Pennsylvania and founding the DVRC in 1987.

Their long devotion to birds also extended to their beloved dogs and, always, to each other. While interviewing the Streeters years ago, I witnessed a real-life display of that devotion when a resident long-eared owl with riveting yellow eyes traded its wall perch for a stint on Stephanie’s head. “Bill, there’s an owl on my head,” she calmly called, shielding her eyes from the bird’s talons. Without drama, and with a delicate touch, Bill gently removed the feathered visitor from above his wife’s brow.

“We share a passion for raptors,” Stephanie confided with her characteristically beautiful smile. Vegetarians for more than 30 years, the couple also shared the unpleasant tasks of feeding the birds their favorite food—raw meat—ranging from mice to fish to venison.

Due to the pandemic, the DVRC’s public programs, which fund most of the center’s work, have ceased for the foreseeable future. Although the DVRC recently stopped rehabbing birds, the center still serves as a sanctuary for two-dozen unreleasable birds in need of care, medical support and food.

Donations to help support Stephanie’s life work can be made to DVRC, 416 Cummins Hill Rd., Milford, PA 18337, or through the raptor center’s website at www.dvrconline.org. Please spread the word by sharing the enlightening YouTube video at the following link via your favorite social media outlets: www.bit.ly/dvrcmilford

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