California Raptor Center

Raptor Center

Visit the California Raptor Center website 

The California Raptor Center is an educational and research facility dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned birds of prey (raptors). Our museum and our permanent collection of living, non-releasable raptors are open to public view on weekdays and Saturdays.

We take in 300-350 sick, injured, and orphaned raptors each year, successfully returning about 60% to the wild. We also provide hands-on training in the care and management of birds of prey to those interested in rehabilitation, and offer educational programs to schools, ecological and environmental organizations, and the university community.

The California Raptor Center is authorized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It is a unique facility in the state because of its affiliation with UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, which supports the medical needs of these special birds and offers a broad spectrum of care, from advanced imaging capabilities to surgical expertise.

Rescue and Rehabilitation

The California Raptor Center is dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors. The Raptor Center and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital together receive about 300-350 injured or ill raptors each year from concerned people in the community who care enough to take action when they encounter an injured bird. Many of the raptors treated are admitted due to adverse contact with human activity. Through care and rehabilitation about 60% of these birds are released.

Our goal is to provide the best medical and husbandry care within our resources. The birds are evaluated and treated for critical medical care at the VMTH. Afterwards they are transported to the CRC for continued care and rehabilitation. While at the CRC, they recover from their medical problems and regain strength through progressive flights in a specially designed enclosure before they are eventually released. Recovery and rehabilitation can take several weeks to several months. Volunteers provide about 7,000 hours of work per year at the CRC educating the public, caring for the grounds and for the birds. 

Research

Working with birds of prey enables us to keep a pulse on the natural world. Being especially vulnerable to changes in their habitat, raptors are important indicators of the ecological health or decline of an area. For instance, toxic chemicals in the environment pose a particularly serious threat to predator species, such as eagles, hawks, vultures, and owls. Being at the top of the food chain, these species often feed on rodents and carrion poisoned by pesticides and are themselves killed as toxic substances accumulate in their systems. Likewise, the increasing number of roads and the expanding network of electrical transmission lines result in nest disturbances, serious injuries, and numerous deaths every year.

Otherwise healthy, non-releasable raptors that are physically and/or psychologically impaired offer a valuable learning resource for faculty and students. These resident raptors receive continuous care and shelter while serving as environmental ambassadors in educational programs, and as foster parents.

Numerous manuscripts, dissertations, and scientific presentations have been completed based on the studies at the California Raptor Center. The ultimate value of such research is that it leads the way for developing conservation biology knowledge for policies protecting these species—especially by improving respect and care of Earth's nonrenewable resources. Much scientific headway has been made in understanding the causes and treatments of diseases, the effects of chemicals in the environment on raptor health and reproduction, the successful use of surrogate parents for fostering orphaned birds, and other areas of raptor biology, physiology, and ecology.

Current research interests include studies on surveillance of infectious diseases, best practices for medical care, collection of biological data and neonatal care and management. Research involves faculty from the schools of Veterinary Medicine and Medicine, as well as the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.