MEET OUR RAPTOR AMBASSADORS
Blackland Prairie Raptor Center’s education birds of prey are the highlight of our outreach programming. Their purpose is to inspire our audiences to think about and actively participate in helping preserve raptors and the environment for generations to come.
Though these education ambassadors have been given names, we must respect them as wild animals. In many cases these birds will be with us for many years, and since we have more than one bird per species, we attempt to give them names that are derived from a bird’s actions or a reference to the natural history of that species. As you read their stories, remember that these birds began their lives as wild creatures and came to us after humans had a negative impact on them. It must be stressed that the birds of Blackland Prairie Raptor Center are and always will remain wild birds of prey, not pets.
All of our raptor ambassadors have come to BPRC with circumstances that make them non-releasable. Due to their injuries or conditions, they would not be able to survive on their own in the wild. They have become the ambassadors for all wild birds of prey by educating the public about the issues concerning their future.
Pippin’ – Red-shouldered Hawk
The story of Pippin is unfortunately a common one. In 2003, he was found flying around a neighborhood acting abnormal for a wild hawk. When approached, he actually landed on the roof of a car begging for food. He is an ‘imprint’ which somebody raised and released thinking they had saved the bird’s life. But Pippin was found almost starved to death, not knowing how to hunt. Fortunately, he has become a wonderful education ambassador with BPRC.
‘Hunter’ – Great Horned Owl
Hunter is a human imprint that had been doing programs at another raptor education facility. He was found as a baby in 2003 and was transferred to BPRC in the fall of 2007.
Willie was found on the ground in the spring of 2002 in Dallas. The person who found her thought she needed help and took her home to raise her. Unfortunately, she was fed cat food as she developed which caused a lack of calcium in her diet, her bones became brittle and fractures occurred in her right wing. This made her only partially flighted. Additionally, she became ‘imprinted’ on humans and now relies on them for her care.
SweetPea’ – Eastern Screech Owl (Gray-phase)
SweetPea hatched in the spring of 2003, was found by a family and taken home. She was kept in a rabbit cage and fed hamburger meat. The family realized it was illegal to have her and took to the appropriate authorities. She was found to be in good condition, but as an ‘imprint’ she was non-releasable and transferred to BPRC in August 2004 as an education ambassador. In Texas we have gray and red phases of Screech Owls, she is a gray-phased owl.
‘Zeus’ – Red-tailed Hawk
Zeus was found near San Antonio. He had been electrocuted though we don’t know the circumstances behind it. Unfortunately his left wing at the wrist was severely damaged and the end of it fell off. Since he was non-releasable due to her injury, he was transferred to BPRC in 2015.
‘Xena’ – Peregrine Falcon
Xena was hatched in 2001 and raised in captivity. She was used in a breeding program for many years. Afterwards an attempt was made to work her as a falconry bird, but she didn’t do very well and was transfered to BPRC in 2012.
‘Orion’ – Red-tailed Hawk
Orion was found by the side of the road unable to fly. He was taken to a raptor rehabilitator who discovered he had two broken wings. Unfortunately they could not be repaired well enough for him to be released. He was transferred to BPRC in late 2009 and has settled in well meeting the public.
‘Beaker’ – Barred Owl
Beaker was found in 2009 with numerous primary (flight) feathers missing from his left wing. There did not seem to be any other injuries that puzzled veterinarians and rehabbers alike. Beaker was kept in rehabilitation to see if new feathers would grow, and they never did. He was transferred to BPRC in 2010 and is quite the crowd pleaser.
‘MIKI’ – Mississippi Kite
MIKI was transferred to BPRC in 2009 from another education facility and was a year old at that time. It is an imprint and has malformed wings as well so it has a hard time flying. We do not know whether it is male or female. MIKI is a very calm bird, about the size of a pigeon, and has molted into its adult plumage which is light and dark gray. At some time in the future its eyes will change to a pretty raspberry red color.