For more than 50 years, Doris Mager has dedicated her life to saving birds of prey, including the bald eagle. Now, at the age of 90, she’s slowing down.
Mager presented her final live Birds of Prey exhibition at Ray Roberts Lake State Park on Jan 5. Approximately 75 people listened while bundled up in coats, hats, gloves and blankets to stay warm.
“I looked into the eyes of that wounded creature over 50 years ago and it spoke to my soul. I knew right that moment that I had been chosen,” said Mager, the founder of Save Our American Raptors (SOAR). “I am not going to cry. I am 90 and this is my last trip to Texas to share my birds with you.”
Guests traveled from around North Texas and beyond to attend. Of the approximately 75 people in attendance, only four raised their hands when asked if they were staying on the campgrounds. People traveled from Gainesville, Greenville, Dallas, Denton and Ardmore, Okla.
One guest, Deborah Wright of Denton, was selected from volunteers to assist Mager during the presentation. Wright held a Great Horned Owl name E.T. Wright carried the raptor throughout the crowd, allowing participants to view E.T. up close. A Great Horned Owl has no peripheral vision but locked eyes with many as she was carefully carried throughout the group.
“That was amazing, simply amazing. I can’t believe she only weighed 3 pounds. I won’t forget this,” Wright said.
E.T. is 34 years old and identified herself as a female at the age of 23, when she laid an egg. Impy, a Screech Owl that accompanied Mager, is 7 years old.
“This one is all nice and sits on my shoulder in the van or at home but every time I bring Impy to an exhibition he screams and throws a fit,” Mager said. There were no bald eagles or hawks among the raptors in this exhibition.
Save Our American Raptors is an educational and research group established in 1983 by Doris Mager. In 1986 she traveled 2,780 miles by bicycle to study the population and natural habits of birds in the wild. She has cared for hundreds of raptors and more than 80 bald eagles in her lifetime.
As the event ended, a line gathered to touch or hold E.T. in exchange for a $5 donation to S.O.A.R.