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FLL TEAM #17900 visits the Discovery Center Aviary at Deep Creek Lake to provide enrichment to injured birds of prey

Last Updated on Dec 7, 2016 at 8:24am | Northern Middle School

The CRE8TORS, a FIRST LEGO LEAGUE team of eight students from Accident Elementary and Northern Middle, are committed to helping injured birds of prey. They will represent their schools in the FLL Garrett County Qualifier, a regional contest that encourages students to “think about people and animals as allies in the quest to make life better for everyone”.
The team visited the Discovery Center Aviary and connected with Naturalist, Sam Dixon. She provided them with a tour and answered all their research questions. The various birds that reside at the Aviary include a Bald and Golden Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed hawk and Eastern Screech Owl. All the birds are injured; had a wing amputated or are visually impaired. Most of the disabilities are a result of interactions with humans.  Birds of prey have been hit and injured by cars because they often hunt or scavenge animals in the roadways.
Most of the birds are unable to function in the wild so the students researched ways to provide therapy. Naturalist Sam informed the team that the birds can become distressed in captivity and by providing enrichment toys, they can improve their quality of life. One of the connections that they discovered is that birds benefit from music and play. This is something the team has in common. The CRE8TORS love music and enjoy playing various instruments together. Students recorded several songs and created a device using a LEGO Mindstorm EV3, that will allow the bird to activate their recordings. With access to their school’s makerspace, they designed and made floatable enrichment toys that simulate the biology of animals the birds would normally hunt in the wild, such as fish and snakes. Students raised funds thanks to a generous donation from the Trrtlz brand bracelet company. This allowed the team to gift a mini glockenspiel to the birds for Christmas. The birds can peck at the instrument to make their own music. The team is proud to participate in the “Wild Parents” adoptions program and the funds will help provide additional habitat materials.
The team’s research project has been shared with various people who work with birds of prey including, Mr. Alan Klotz, DNR’s Freshwater Fisheries Manager, who provided helpful information about the importance of wild birds in Garrett County.  The team sent video footage of their project to John Benam, an Emmy Award winning NatGeo filmmaker who documents birds of prey.
The community is invited to support the Discovery Center Aviary as they continue to provide a refuge for injured birds and support rehabilitation of those that can return to the wild. For more information about the Aviary, please visit:
To see a behind the scenes video of the team visiting the Aviary, please visit:

             Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center (L to R) Michaela Brenneman, Reagan Emory,
             Leah Brenneman, Matthew Yoder, Abe Schilpp, Kyle Chaney, Blake Chaney, Sam Dixon 

             Top Left: (NMS Students) Reagan Emory, Matthew Yoder, Michaela Brenneman,
                            Leah Brenneman, Adrienne Cedro, Kyle Chaney
             Front Row: (Accident Elementary Students) Abe Schilpp, Blake Chaney 

             Top L to R- Sam Dixon, Kyle Chaney, Matthew Yoder, Blake Chaney, Adrienne Cedro,
                                Leah Brenneman
             Bottom L to R- Michaela Brenneman, Abe Schilpp, Reagan Emory, Amelia the
                                     Peregrine Falcon