While visiting the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon, you may hear the faint hoot of an owl echoing from above. Or, perhaps the screeching shriek of a hawk will catch your attention.
The center houses around 50 birds of prey from about 30 different species. A whole menagerie of raptors, including species like snowy owls, bald eagles, Gyrfalcons, and vultures, call the place home. It is one of the largest collections of native raptors in the Pacific Northwest.
The birds live within outdoor aviaries scattered throughout the wooded property. Unlike the other birds that pass through, these captive specimens will never again be wild—they’re either too injured or have become too dependent on humans. But many, many other free raptors owe their lives to the center.
The Cascades Raptor Center rehabilitates 200 or more birds of prey each year. The raptors are rescued after they’ve faced hardships like getting hit by cars, tangled in fences, shot, or had their nests destroyed. They’re then carefully nursed back to health and then released back into the wild. In the last 25 years, the center has rehabilitated over 2,000 birds.
The birds that do stay become part of the center’s mission to educate the public about raptors and the need to respect the environment. People of all ages can visit the property and pass by the aviaries to encounter the big, beautiful birds up close. Some of the raptors even travel to schools and public events.