Roger Holloway’s singing is for the birds.
The Kirkwood resident works for the World Bird Sanctuary in west St. Louis County. He has taken his nature talk on the road for many years—visiting classrooms, scout meetings, festivals, corporate events, zoos, even nursing homes.
But now he’s put his lesson to music for the very youngest of audiences.
“They’re used to being told to use their inside voices,” Holloway said. “But we’re telling them to make noise, clap along and sing along. When they see that bird face to face, it really makes a connection.”
Holloway’s day job is director of operations at the sanctuary. But he’s also part of a band he formed with coworkers called The Raptor Project.
The band has produced two CDs to benefit the bird sanctuary and developed a sing-a-long program for preschoolers and elementary school students. When Holloway visits a school, he plays guitar and sings and brings along a hawk or owl or falcon for back up.
The songs teach about topics such as clean water, backyard birds, frogs and snakes, and especially about the birds of prey that the sanctuary is trying to protect.
One such song about the turkey vulture, or “Mother Nature’s garbage man,” is a favorite with kids because it details the many gross but necessary habits of a bird that likes to eat “dead stuff that stinks real bad.”
“It’s natural history set to music,” Holloway said.
Holloway, 46, has worked for the sanctuary for about 25 years. Part of his job is managing the wildlife hospital and helping to rehabilitate injured birds.
In recent days, he helped release back into the wild a young red-tailed hawk and a great horned owl. Both birds had wing or shoulder injuries after being hit by cars.
Other days find him managing the sanctuary's intern program or supervising scouts working on their Eagle Scout projects.
He thinks it beats a desk job in a downtown office building.
“I think about that sometimes when I’m walking outside: ‘You know, I could be in a cubicle right now or on the tenth floor somewhere,’” he said. “So that’s not so bad.”
One of the things he loves most about his unusual job is getting to introduce people to birds of prey.
“It’s just not work when you get to show the birds,” he said. “It’s not work -- it's just fun.”
The World Bird Sanctuary, located near the entrance to St. Louis County's Lone Elk Park near Interstate 44 and Missouri Highway 141, is free and open daily. Visitors can see eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, vultures, parrots, reptiles and more.
The sanctuary will host its annual World Eagle Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. Nearly 20 eagles will be on display, including species from Africa and Australia. In addition to getting up-close photo opportunities, visitors will be able to tour the hospital and see live eagle shows, visit the kids’ craft center and buy souvenirs and concessions.
For more information about the World Bird Sanctuary, its programs or The Raptor Project, go to www.worldbirdsanctuary.org or call (636) 861-3225.