Dear Friends of the California Raptor Center,

Spring is in the air at the Center! It is our busiest time of the year as we are not only receiving sick and injured adult raptors but also many orphaned chicks in need of food and shelter. If you find raptor chicks on the ground, remember the mantra “if you care, leave them there!,” as most of these chicks are simply attempting their first flight and only need a bit more time on the ground to build up their flying strength. Most of the time, the parents are close by and will feed the chick on the ground until it can truly takes its first flight. But, in some cases, the chick may not be safe from predators and human interaction; these are the chicks our nursery receives during this season. If you have found a chick down on the ground, before you pick them up please check out our webpage on whether this chick really needs to be “rescued.”

Housing for all of our rehabilitation patients is at a premium during the springtime. The weather is finally warm enough for taking those weekend hikes, and many more birds are found and brought to us for rehabilitation during this season. Currently, our primary rehabilitation building, the “J” runs, were created decades ago by putting a roof over 12 old dog runs that a previous director (thank you Dr. Brooks!) acquired from campus. Now, thirty years later, only a few of the runs are still safe enough to use.

Our major facilities upgrade goal this year is to replace the “J” runs. We have developed plans to expand the building from 12 to 26 mews (or runs) without a major increase in the building footprint. We are incredibly grateful to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 1967 for kicking off our Spring Fundraising Campaign for us, and we open the Campaign to the public on May 1. To learn more about our drive to replace our aged caging click here.

We had an amazing turnout for Biodiversity Museum Day in February, for the first time welcoming more than 1000 guests to one of our events! We are gearing up for our Spring Open House this coming Saturday, May 5. Our friends from the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society will be there to tell you how their programs also help wild birds of prey. In the afternoon, we’ll have refreshments courtesy of our new local partners Woodstock's Pizza and Super Owl Brewing. We hope you can join us to meet all of our amazing ambassador birds and the volunteers that care for them up close and in person!

Looking forward to seeing everyone Saturday, May 5!

Director, California Raptor Center

imping procedure restores flight

This March we had the privilege of observing Dr. Bill Ferrier (former director of the California Raptor Center) perform the unusual "imping" procedure on an injured red-tailed hawk that had been brought to us. It was also a wonderful teaching opportunity for 2 of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Companion Avian & Exotic Animal Service residents, who had the chance to imp a few feathers under Dr. Ferrier's supervision.

raising funds for new rehab building

On Tuesday, May 1 we launched a month-long campaign to raise money for a new rehabilitation building for raptors!

Since 1972 the California Raptor Center has been a sanctuary for rescued and rehabilitated raptors. The "J run" building is our primary rehabilitation building, which was pieced together using old dog runs from other areas of UC Davis campus over 30 years ago. This dilapidated structure currently has 12 "mews", or enclosures, that are in various stages of severe disrepair; a number of these are not even usable anymore for safety reasons. As a result, rehabilitation space has been limited, and it has been challenging to maintain biosafety measures.

Your gift will help us reach our goal of raising $75,000 which, in addition to a matching gift pledged by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 1967, will enable us to replace the existing "J run" building with a new Rehabilitation Building. This new building will have 26 (8 x 12 foot) mews, which will more than double the existing rehabilitation space in the building. The design will also allow for adding on to the structure in the future if needed. We will be able to rehabilitate more birds with higher biosecurity measures. We will minimize costs by using solar power for lights and ceiling fans to maintain ventilation.

record-breaking attendance during biodiversity museum day 2018

The 7th annual Biodiversity Museum Day took place on February 17, 2018. This is a free, educational event for the community where visitors get to meet and talk with UC Davis scientists and see amazing objects and organisms from the world around us. This was our 3rd year participating, and we had our biggest turnout yet--over 1,100 attendees!


Eliza was found as a chick in the Davis area on July 7, 2016. Jays had been seen attacking the kites' nest and throwing the baby out. The chick was brought to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, where X-rays and palpitation showed she had a broken right coracoid (one of the bones in the avian shoulder) and a broken right clavicle (which, in birds, is part of the "whishbone" or furcula). Neither of these injuries can be treated except by confinement in a small cage to restrict movement while they heal.

After her bones were once more strong and whole, Eliza showed a severe wing droop on the left and was deemed non-releasable. Kites hover to hunt, and an imperfectly healed wing bone is often not strong enough to sustain this activity.


Longtime volunteer Brenton Pierce with Sullivan, the golden eagle he trained to the glove

Brenton Pierce started volunteering at the California Raptor Center 10 years ago. It all started because he was generally interested in birds, but had no idea where to begin. After attending an orientation at the CRC, he put in a ballot for a volunteer slot and was eventually chosen by Operations Manager Bret Stedman.

"I was fortunate enough to be trained by Bret Stedman. I think that gave me a lot of confidence around the raptors."

In 2012, when a golden eagle came in with an injured wing and was deemed non-releasable, Brenton asked Bret if he could learn how to train the eagle to work with a handler at CRC education events. The process can take time, particularly with a bird as powerful as a golden eagle, but with Brenton's dedication and Bret's guidance the eagle progressed well, and after a month or so was successfully introduced to an audience of volunteers. Not long afterward, he made his public debut before an enthralled young lad, his parents, and young friends, who were enjoying his birthday celebration at the CRC. The eagle was eventually given the name "Sullivan" by Brenton himself.

Brenton enjoys volunteering at the CRC for the work itself and the wonderful team of volunteers he gets to work with on a regular basis. As a volunteer-driven organization, it is a true love for nature that keeps people coming back, contributing time and energy on a regular basis. Brenton feels it is a true blessing to be a part of it all.

upcoming events

Spring Open House: Saturday, May 5th

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