Native Americans have a great spiritual connection to owls and other birds of prey such as the eagle, the raven and the red tail hawk.
Kevin Autry contacted us a few months back, all the way from North Carolina, U.S.A., and asked if we could spare any feathers for his religious ceremonies. We were intrigued and happy to help with this hands-across-the-water request, and were able to send a small selection of feathers from non-native species (that is, bird species from our display team not native to the UK), including the bateleur eagle, cara cara, spotted eagle owl, Siberian eagle owl, vulture and bald eagle.
Here is what he had to say upon receiving our parcel in the post:
“I am Lumbee Indian and Eastern Band Cherokee. The Lumbee are descended from the Cheraw Indians and are from the eastern part of the United States.
The feathers are used as a connection between me (Kevin), the Great Spirit (God) and the Spirit of the Bird. They are a symbol of respect and honour.
I wear them on my Regalia which is a traditional outfit that I wear during our tribal ceremony. I have not quite finished making the complete outfit yet, but I have finished a beaded hat that I wore, which has two of the owl feathers in it which you (Suffolk Owl Sanctuary) have donated. I have enclosed the photos of it and also a photo of a small prayer fan made of hawk feathers that I made for my granddaughter - she is 3 years old. She dances in our ceremony as a jingle dancer.”
We would also like to take this moment to thank Kevin for kindly donating to SOS in return - something which was not expected, but is very much appreciated and will help us to continue our rescue, education and conservation work which is so very important to our owls and birds of prey.