Raptor rescue at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center
Behind the main visitors center of Shaver's Creek stand wooden enclosures housing more than 20 permanently injured birds of prey. The free and public Raptor Center at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center cares for hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, and even an American kestrel.
All birds taken adopted by the raptor program are unable to live in the wild due to injuries which may prevent them from flying, catch and eat food, or perform other key survival functions. Keeping these raptors healthy is a full-time job and an excellent learning opportunity taken on by a team of interns and a few regular volunteers. “There’s always something to do here, we always say,” said Jen Steigerwalt program director at Shaver’s Creek.
While their feathered friends don't have names, the interns, volunteers and specialists of the Raptor Center have learned that each bird has its own personality and own food preferences. Mice, rats, and chicks from local farms are shipped to Shaver’s Creek and stored in large freezers until needed.
After raking all of the enclosures and cleaning feeding perches, interns and volunteers thaw the day’s feast in warm water and in the case of the golden eagle cut the food into strips for consumption.
Stories for the Birds
The staff of the raptor center call the golden eagle a princess saying she has the boldest personality out of all the birds. After being released from Hershey Zoo of America in 1990 as a newly hatched eagle, she was accidentally electrocuted.
The eagle collided with a power line and sustained injuries to her beak, throat, left wing, and one of the talons on her right foot. She underwent procedures to repair her wing, talon, and a hole in her throat. Unfortunately, the surgery to repair the hole in her throat subsequently caused her beak to improperly align, leaving her unable to tear up her food sufficiently.
Raptor Intern Julie Dahl believes the history of the smaller of the center’s great horned owls is particularly moving. The owl arrived at the center in 1993, after getting tangled in a barbed wire fence and severely damaging her left wing. The owner of the farm brought her in even thought she smelled strongly of skunk, Dahl suggested that the owl may have been chasing one for a meal before the incident. She is still used for programs at Shaver’s Creek and was the model for their Great Horned Owl logo.
Birds of the Center
Permanently injured raptors are highlighted in this image slide show.