Raptor Center Tops 5,000th Bird of Prey!
The Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo has admitted the 5000th bird of prey to its raptor rehabilitation program. Established in 1981, the Raptor Center has the mission of providing the best possible rehabilitation care to injured birds of prey (raptors such as hawks, owls, and eagles) and to promote understanding and appreciation of these magnificent predators through educational opportunities for the public. Raptors have been cared for from 46 counties in Colorado and several other states including Texas, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah, and Kansas.
The facility provides care to more than 200 injured or orphaned birds of prey annually. The birds’ injuries are sometimes simple, such as a mild concussion or a lost youngster. But they are all too often quite extensive and severe, such as multiple fractures, internal injuries, severe head trauma or burns. The major causes of these injuries are destruction of a nest; collisions with automobiles, windows, or powerlines; entanglement with barbed wire fences; poisonings or disease. All birds admitted are treated in hopes that they will one day return to the wild. With the generous help of local veterinarians, volunteers, and donors, half of the patients will resume their lives in the wild.
Occasionally a bird is admitted that survives its injuries, but is left with a handicap which prevents it from returning to the wild. These special birds remain at the facility and become ambassadors for their kind. These “resident raptors” become a very vital part of the staff and assist with educational efforts. Thousands of children and adults participate in educational activities annually. In addition, “resident raptors’ are available for public visitation throughout the year.
Housed in an old hog barn built in the 1930’s by the Works Progress Administration, the Raptor Center operates primarily with volunteers under the supervision of a Raptor Center Director. Interested individuals from the age of 14 on up are eligible to take part in the volunteer program. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the Raptor Center’s operations.
One example of a recently admitted raptor is that of an immature red-tailed hawk. The young bird was recovered in Pueblo West, Colorado on September 30, 2013. The bird has sustained fractures to the ulna and radial bones of the right wing from gunshot. The skilled hands of Dr. Jack Gregorich of Veterinary Associates in Pueblo, provided the surgical expertise to repair the damage. To stabilize the fractures, a steel pin has been inserted through the wing. The wing is currently wrapped to keep it in the correct position for healing. Because of the severity of the fractures, healing will take 2 – 6 weeks. While it is recovering the bird will be housed at the NRCP’s raptor facilities.
In addition to the Raptor Center, the Nature Center’s natural area along the Arkansas River is open to the public throughout the year and offers a multitude of recreational opportunities. The Nature & Raptor Center of Pueblo is funded through memberships, donations, grants and special events. The facility operates under permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks & Wildlife. For more information, or to schedule a program, contact the NRCP staff at (719) 549-2414.
Adopt a Raptor!
Become part of our efforts to protect and care for the native birds of prey and Sponsor a Raptor Ambassador. A portion of funds generated provides for the food, medical supplies, veterinary care, and housing of injured, ill and orphaned birds of prey. With your help, we can continue to assist wildlife in distress, and release these magnificent creatures back into the wild. Adopt Online, call 719-549-2414, visit us at the Raptor Center or in our office!
Pearle Sandstrom-Smith, a 2013 Eagle Day Photography Contest winner, releases a female red-tailed hawk near Swink, CO on October 9th. If you would like to view this release please ‘Like’ the Nature and Raptor Center on Facebook. There is a link there to a video of this fantastic event on our timeline. The female hawk was one of three Red Tailed hawks that need to be released back into the wild along with five Great Horned owls. The time is set and the places are assigned. Some will be private events but others will be open to the public. If you are interested in witnessing these fantastic releases please call the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo at 719-549-2414.
This release was overseen by Diana Miller of the Raptor Center of Pueblo and Kelsey Frosyth of the Nature Center of Pueblo. Diana expertly demonstrated to Pearle how to hold the female hawk without hurting it as it was pulled from the box. Then on the count of three she was once again reunited with her home. This particular Red Tailed hawk seemed to be calm during the release. The moment she was tossed into the air she spread her wings and flew to the nearest tree where she was able to survey her surroundings and take in the idea of being free once again.