San Antonio Express-News

Raptors might help against Lakers if cupcakes don't do trick


Author: Susan Yerkes of San Antonio Express-News (TX)                               


 May 12, 2004


Spotted on the River Walk last Sunday - hungry raptors, spoiling for some sport.

No, it wasn't Shaq and the Lakers. They had just done their kind of damage to the Spurs at the Staples Center.

The raptors by the river were real birds of prey; hooded falcons, hawks and a couple of European eagle owls with 5-foot wingspans - one of Jeffrey Diaz's working squads of birds of prey.

Diaz, a rugged Californian with movie-star good looks, stopped in town for a short rest before finishing his drive to one of Sunoco's Texas plants, where he and his winged workers have a contract to drive off pesky birds that plague the place.

Diaz, a falconer since he was just 12, started his Ronin Air Falconry Service to use the powerful predators for "environmental bird pest abatement." He says the powerful inborn fear the predators instill in smaller birds such as seagulls and starlings can scare such nuisance roosters off for good. His birds even have top security clearance to work on military installations, such as a bird-plagued Stealth bomber plant in California.

"I've heard San Antonio has a grackle problem," Diaz said, stroking the powerful falcon that rode his heavy glove. He says he's hoping to talk to city officials about it.

Sounds a lot cooler than those evening cannonades designed to spook the grackles.

And if the city can't use Diaz's raptors, maybe the Spurs could sign them as a secret weapon, to keep that pesky Shaq at bay.

Lucky cupcakes?

Speaking of the Spurs, folks in Methodist Hospital's radiology department are hoping their lucky cupcakes can help the team win.

Back in March, Dr. David Bynum and supervisor Regina Barrientez started baking cupcakes for the department's 80 employees the night before each game day. The next day, they'd all gather to toast the team with cupcakes. The Spurs kept winning, so they kept baking.

Sunday's loss didn't phase the bakers. It wasn't a regular workday, they said. Monday night they baked again, and Tuesday they made their toast. As this section went to press Tuesday afternoon, we don't know whether the cupcakes worked this time.

If we don't win the playoffs, at least there'll always be the bake-offs.

Naked ambition

Those wild and crazy Comal County folks will do just about anything to support the fabulous Canyon Lake Animal Shelter in Startzville. Walking Naked, for instance.

This Saturday is the shelter's fifth annual "Bark-B-Que" and auction to raise dough for the no-kill shelter. San Antonio's Sallie Scott, former head of the Animal Defense League and founder of the new Animal Friends group here, is helping promote the all-day party, which features bands, barbecue by award-winning cook Jim McKee and a bodacious silent auction - all for a $6 ticket. Call (830) 905-7387 for info.

This year, there's a new twist, Scott says. County Commissioner Jack Dawson, Constable Ben Scroggin and Justice of the Peace Jennifer Saunders have agreed to walk Naked at the event.

Yup, Naked. That's the name of one of the shelter dogs.


Susan Yerkes' column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in S.A. Life.

Got a hot tip? Call her at (210) 250-3542, or e-mail


Copyright 2004 San Antonio Express-News
Record Number: 729621 Edition: Metro
S.A. Life
Page: 1G

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