BRATTLEBORO — On Friday, March 12, at 5 p.m., researcher and conservationist Jonathan Slaght will be the guest at the Brattleboro Literary Festival's virtual Cocktail Hour.
Slaght is the Russia/Northeast Asia coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). He manages research projects involving endangered species such as Blakiston's fish owls and Amur tigers, and he coordinates WCS avian conservation activities along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway from the Arctic to the Tropics.
He is considered to be one of the world's foremost experts on Blakiston's fish owl, the subject of his new book, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl, selected by The New York Times as one of its notable books of 2020 and long-listed for the National Book Award.
Slaght will talk about his book and his quest to find and save the world's largest owl. Despite a wingspan of 6 feet and a height of over 2 feet, the fish owl is highly elusive and an endangered species.
They are easiest to find in winter, when their tracks mark the snowy banks of the rivers where they feed. Slaught describes a team's efforts to conserve the owls, a quest that sends them on all-night monitoring missions in freezing tents, mad dashes across thawing rivers, and free-climbs up rotting trees to check nests for precious eggs.
Joining Slaght will be Charlie Rattigan, an award-winning documentary producer and the executive director of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, known for birds of prey rehabilitation. In 2019, VINS staffers treated a record total of 705 wild birds at the institute's Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation, and 77 of those were barred owls.
Register at bit.ly/LitCocktail8. Registered participants for the free event will be able to interact with the author in a question and answer session. You can also watch the event live-streamed on the Brattleboro Literary Festival's YouTube page without registering.
This is the 20th anniversary season of the Festival, which will be full of special events like this one. Donations are welcome at brattleboroliteraryfestival.org/donate-now.