A New Charity Event Takes Wing at the World Center for Birds of Prey 

This kestrel sculpture by Benjamin Victor is one of many art pieces that will be up for auction at Nocturne.

Courtesy World Center for Birds of Prey

This kestrel sculpture by Benjamin Victor is one of many art pieces that will be up for auction at Nocturne.

Birds of a feather flock together, but at the World Center for Birds of Prey's upcoming event, there are many different groups doing the flocking. The Peregrine Fund's Center will host "Nocturne" on Thursday, Sept. 6, from 6-9 p.m., gathering artists, philanthropists and bird enthusiasts in one place.

"The event is specifically to help The Peregrine Fund and the World Center to raise money to be able to provide STEM education for free to students from all over the valley," said Ellen Wilson, who is coordinating Nocturne. "We will have about 30 local artists that have created pieces [showcasing] raptors that will be auctioned off. There will be bird handlers there, birds flying, food and libations, and an auction for the pieces."

Wilson, an artist herself, has been involved with the Center for a few years. She initially reached out because of her love of birds and her desire to help the Center with its conservation efforts. One of her collaborations with the Center was an installation titled The 22, in which she placed 22 life-sized condors on top of the Record Exchange to bring awareness to the organization's mission and the scarcity of condors before human conservation efforts. Wilson said she had wanted to do an event like Nocturne for a while.

"We'll have all of the birds out for the event," she said. "There will be some condors, a harpy eagle, a bunch of owls, a vulture and a bald eagle. It's an enchanting place to spend an evening."

One unexpected partner will be Mad Swede Brewing, which has fermented a specially crafted beer called "Nocturne Ale" for the event. Mad Swede Head Brewer Jerry Larson described it as a robust porter with undertones of chocolate and roastiness. Oatmeal was added into the brewing process, which Larson said makes the beer silkier on the palette. The brew will be available at Mad Swede for tasting until the end of September, and a portion of all of its sales will be donated to the Center.

"They're one of our best partners and have helped us out with fundraising events in the past," said Erin Katzner, the Center's director of global engagement. "We do 'Birds & Brew' every spring at Mad Swede where we bring some of our birds so that the community can meet them, and then a portion of the sales from that night goes back toward the Center."

The programs that the Center offers are designed to teach students about the importance of science and its own conservation efforts. More than 5,000 students take advantage of these programs each year at little to no cost. The Center focuses on the core building blocks of science, like the scientific method, and uses birds of prey to get students excited about learning. Transportation is provided for the students, as well as admission, a tour and a family pass, so that they can return to the Center with their families and show them around.

"We'll start out by asking students how many of them think they are scientists, and not a lot of them raise their hands," said Katzner. "We then tell them that science is about making observations, hypotheses to understand those observations, then testing those hypotheses. Then kids realize they are scientists, maybe not formally, but they are constantly making observations throughout their day and then coming up with ideas about what those different situations could mean and then testing to see if those are right."

Corbin Maxey, a nationally recognized biologist, will emcee the STEM-centered event. Mad Swede will take care of the drinks, and local caterer A Lively Chef will provide the food. The Center hopes to raise $15,000 over the course of the evening so that it can continue to provide its STEM programs to children in the Treasure Valley.

"This is going to be a really fun event," said Katzner. "It's the first time that we've done anything like it and I think that it's a great way to connect with the community, not only with the Center, but also with some of the amazing local artists that we have here in town."

The artwork that will be auctioned off at the event can be previewed at the Center's online auction page.

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