You might already know that eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and other birds of prey are all classified as raptors. But did you know that one unique characteristic makes a raptor a raptor— they all hunt with their feet rather than with their beaks! Raptor talons are sharp and strong enough to grasp and kill, while their beaks are more suited for ripping. If you’ve ever watched an eagle or an osprey catch a meal, you know it is aptly named. For a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a wide variety of impressive raptors, stop at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon.
Nestled on a wooded hillside, the Cascades Raptor Center (CRC) is a non-profit nature center and wildlife hospital specializing in birds of prey. The staff and volunteers care for sick, injured and orphaned raptors, with the goal of returning as many as possible to the wild. Unfortunately, not all can be returned, and those that are non-releasable have permanent homes here. In fact, over 60 birds live in large, outdoor aviaries and you can see and learn about each by strolling along shaded gravel pathways. You’re sure to be amazed and delighted by these wonderful winged creatures!
Each bird’s name and interesting story is posted on their enclosure so you know why they are perpetual residents at CRC. For example, Anu and Dakini are brain-damaged white-tailed kites that experienced heat stroke while they were fledging; McKenzie, a female Bald Eagle, seriously damaged her right wing by colliding with a cell phone tower; and Freyja is a captive-bred and trained peregrine falcon that is too socialized to live in the wild after her breeder and owner retired from falconry. Other residents include nine species of hawks, a dozen different owls, turkey vultures and many more.
Try to visit CRC on a weekday so that you don’t miss the informative “handler talks” held at noon. Education Director Kit Lacy will introduce you to a special raptor such as Dmitri, a non-native but beautiful Eurasian Eagle Owl. Dmitri has stunning orange eyes and is a relative of the Great Horned Owl. He acts as the CRC’s photogenic “spokesperson” by appearing at fundraisers, educational outreach events, and is available for private “bird-day” parties, too.
You never know when you might find a bird that has flown into a window, gotten tangled in a fence, or fallen from a nest. Luckily, wildlife rehabilitators such as the Cascades Raptor Center can help injured and sick raptors become healthy again, and take their rightful place back in the wild.
IF YOU GO:
Cascades Raptor Center
32275 Fox Hollow Road
Eugene, Oregon 97405
Admission Fees: Adults: $8 • Teens/Seniors: $7 • Children under 12: $5
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. April – October and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. November – March
Handler Talks: Tuesday – Friday at Noon
Directions from I-5: Take Exit 189, Lane Community College/30th Avenue; take 30th Avenue west past LCC into Eugene; at the base of the hill, turn left at light onto Hilyard; at first light, turn left again onto East Amazon Drive; go 3/4 mile to the first right (which is Fox Hollow); turn right and go 2 1/4 miles. The Center is on the right, the first driveway past the Ridgeline Trail sign and across from the Trail parking lot. Watch carefully for sign behind a large wooden mailbox.
On-site parking is limited at the Raptor Center, so if the lot is full, park along the road— either Fox Hollow or along Christensen Road just across the street. Sorry, NO dogs are allowed on CRC property, not even in closed vehicles.