ca rAPTOR cENTER nEWS Winter 2019


Dear Friends of the California Raptor Center,

While we are thrilled with the rain we have been getting here in NorCal, we hope it stays away this Saturday, February 16, as we join our campus sister organizations for the 2019 UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day celebration from 9 AM–1 PM! Come meet Phoenix, our new Peregrine Falcon (learn all about her here), say hello to our long-term ambassadors in their thick winter plumage and take advantage of all the UCD museum programs open for this celebration. You can get more information about all the Biodiversity Museum Day events set to celebrate this day here.

This month we highlight Diana Munoz in our “Meet Our Volunteers” corner. Diana joined the volunteer ranks at the CRC in 2012 and has tremendous talents as a scientist and educator. We are so proud of her help with our off site educational programs for students K-12 and the excellent drawing classes she has taught during the CRC Open House events. Check out her story—stop by and say hello to her at Biodiversity Museum Day or at our next Open House event!

Finally, we also want to feature the research of Ryan Bourbour for his PhD program here at UC Davis. Ryan utilized our resident birds at the CRC to help him validate an assay to find out the exact prey items certain birds of prey are eating. This information is invaluable as we study raptor populations and the availability of prey in certain migratory pathways. You can read all about Ryan and his work here.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and I hope to see you this Saturday for Biodiversity Museum Day!


Director, California Raptor Center

The California Raptor Center Treats a Rare Visitor (release video included)

Merlins (Falco columbarius) are an uncommon sight in Davis. These small, stocky falcons breed in the boreal regions of North America, scattered across the northernmost forested parts of the continental United States during their summer breeding season. They only pass through California during a partial winter migration, in which some individuals (and some subspecies) may remain close to their summer ranges while others travel far south, a subset of them even passing south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Due to this strictly seasonal, irregular transit through California, Merlins rarely end up in the care of the California Raptor Center. On average, the California Raptor Center may receive a Merlin patient once every five to ten years—not a frequent occurrence!

One of these rare cases came to the CRC when, on November 6th, 2018, a Good Samaritan found an injured Merlin at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. The finder brought the bird to the California Raptor Center, where staff discovered that the small falcon was alert, robust, and strong, but suffering from what appeared to be a fractured left wing. Radiographs at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital confirmed a closed left ulnar fracture. Because of the injury’s location and relatively simple nature, veterinarians believed the bird stood a good chance of healing well enough to return to the wild, so they stabilized the Merlin’s wing with a wrap and discharged the bird to recuperate at the California Raptor Center.


Ryan Bourbour volunteered at the California Raptor Center from 2014-2015 when he was an undergraduate majoring in Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology at UC Davis. He has since carried over his interest in raptors to his graduate studies in Dr. Joshua Hull's laboratory in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.

His recent research was published in the latest issue of Ecology & Evolution, entitled “Messy Eaters: Swabbing prey DNA from the exterior of inconspicuous predators when foraging cannot be observed.” To help validate the methods used to collect data for this paper, Bourbour returned to the California Raptor Center to conduct a pilot study.


Phoenix, the Peregrine Falcon (photo by CRC volunteer Billy Thein)

Like many of the injured raptors brought to the California Raptor Center, Phoenix the Peregrine Falcon was in bad shape when she first arrived.

A hatch year juvenile at the time, Phoenix was brought to the California Raptor Center in October of 2017. A Good Samaritan first spotted her alongside a country road in Woodland as he drove past but was unable to stop and investigate. Days later, passing the same spot again, he saw the falcon still down on the ground. At that point, able to help and recognizing that something was wrong, he picked the bird up and transported her to the California Raptor Center.


Diana with Eliza the white-tailed kite

Diana started volunteering at the California Raptor Center during the summer of 2012 while completing her undergraduate coursework in Avian Sciences at UC Davis. As an aspiring wildlife biologist, she was looking for hands-on experience working with birds. Raptors, Diana says, have always been one of her favorite animal groups, so she jumped at the chance to volunteer at the CRC. Since then, her years of volunteering at the CRC have been full of life-changing moments.

limited edition t-shirt campaign returns

We are excited to announce that FLOAT (For Love of All Things) will be designing a brand new limited-edition California Raptor Center t-shirt. $8 from every item with this design sold during May 27-June 3 will be donated to the California Raptor Center. More details to follow!

upcoming events

Biodiversity Museum Day: Saturday, February 16

Spring Open House: May 4

FLOAT t-shirt campaign: May 27-June 3

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