You can visit Eugene, Ore., for the state's only wildlife rehabilitation facility maintained strictly for raptors.
A path through the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Ore., winds past outdoor aviaries holding 60 resident birds of prey, among them Darwin, a 2.5-ounce pygmy owl—petite, irresistibly cute, and with a keen appetite for small animals. The center, which has treated more than 3,000 injured eagles, falcons, hawks, owls, ospreys, and other birds, is Oregon’s only wildlife rehabilitation facility maintained strictly for raptors.
Here in this woodsy site, you can get much closer to these stunning creatures than you ever could in the wild. Many have compelling histories. Nike, a gyrfalcon, suffered an eye injury on a flight from the Arctic. “She comes from so far away and was helped by people in the right place at the right time,” says Louise Shimmel, the center’s founder. Darwin, the pygmy owl, was hit by a car and can no longer hunt. McKenzie, a female bald eagle, flew into a guy wire on a cell-phone tower and injured a wing.
Telling such tales about human impact on wild birds is a key part of the center’s mission. “Education is critical, because it will diminish the number of animals needing care,” Shimmel says. Visitors can tour the grounds six days a week year-round; call to book a private tour. (541) 485- 1320, eraptors.org.
Photography by Jon Christopher Meyers
This article was first published in November 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.