CRC in the Community

CRC at the Celebrate Davis Event on May 19

Luna, Great-horned Owl
CRC was invited by John McNerney, the City of Davis wildlife biologist, to bring birds and a message from those of us who work with wild animals to this annual event. McNerney said he wanted to “reach out to the community about rodenticides and the associated ecological hazards.” And he figured the greatest messengers would be our birds. As an agricultural community, we use many toxic substances every year in the fields and in the town. We distributed our literature on attracting barn owls and kestrels with nest boxes, and other safe methods of dealing with pests. Of course we had our silent but nonetheless eloquent plaintiffs, who give warning about the dangers to us all. “Whoo,” Luna cries, “Whoo cares about us?” CRC wants to help swell the answering chorus of: “We do!”  

CRC at Thank Goodness for Staff, May 18

Grasshopper, Swainson's Hawk

We took Grasshopper the Swainson's Hawk and Forrest the Great Horned Owl to the University's Thank Goodness for Staff celebration in Russell Park in Davis. After we got out from under the brass band, the birds were wonderful representatives of wild America, and we had so many visitors to our booth, we couldn't count them. About 6700 people attended the event, and I'm sure we had at least 300 stop by the booth. Too many folks at UC Davis still don't know we are part of the University, but we're making progress on that. Volunteers Liz Williamson and Sallie Reynolds fielded the audience's questions, which were searching and sometimes technical - always fun for us. The visitors were somewhat surprised to hear that both these raptor species live right in Davis. Both birds were great hits, but Forrest seemed to win the popularity prize. Something about owls . . .

CRC at the VMTH Spring Showcase, May 18

Sullivan, Golden Eagle

Sullivan the Golden Eagle and volunteers Brenton Pierce and Cailey Cavanaugh represented The Raptor Center at this annual VMTH celebration of its wonderful donors. Speaking of popularity prizes: Sullivan is the star wherever he goes.

Raptor Center Volunteers Present at STEM 4 Girls

Volunteers show birds

The California Raptor Center was invited to bring our education program and birds to the Stem 4 Girls event at the Student Community Center on April 30.

Golden Eagle with Handler

We gave three presentations, with Sullivan the Golden Eagle, Jack the Red-tailed Hawk, Grasshopper the Swainson's Hawk, Forrest the Great Horned Owl, and Spar the American Kestrel.

Volunteer with Great Horned Owl

More than 60 young women from three local high schools attended this event, which was hosted by Heather Lou of the UC Davis Women's Research and Resource Center.

Volunteer with American Kestrel

Many thanks to the Education Team members Arlene Motter, Mark Moore, Brenton Pierce, Sallie Reynolds, Jessica Schlarbaum, and Liz Williamson, for making this event a great success.Thanks to volunteer Cailey Cavanaugh for the fine photos.

Sullivan Attends Eagle Scout Graduation Ceremony

Eagle Scouts with Sullivan

On Saturday, February 27, CRC Golden Eagle Sullivan, handled by Brenton Pierce and assisted by Jacqueline Wall, was invited to the Grass Valley Eagle Scout graduation ceremony. The Eagle Scouts -- Ben Leitherer, Kevin Cayabyab, Damien Humpherys and Kesler Baker -- got to meet a real wild eagle and learn a bit about the natural lives of these "warrior birds."

California Raptor Center Visits Duck Days

CRC at Duck Days
Jack, our Red-tailed Hawk, surveys the crowd at Duck Days

On Saturday, February 20, Yolo Basin Foundation again invited the California Raptor Center to bring its birds to their Duck Days event. Whistler the juvenile Swainson's Hawk and Forrest the young Great Horned Owl made their debut away from home. Handled by volunteers Sara Remmes and Julia Cotton, the two youngsters remained calm despite running children, barking dogs, and a loud chorus of duck callers.

Julia with Whistler

Julia with Whistler, a Swainson's Hawk

Two of our seasoned ambassadors, Jack the Red-tail and Spar the American Kestrel, joined in the fun - nothing seems to faze these two. They were handled by Diana Munoz, Cailey Cavanaugh, and Lynae Shubin.

Our “discovery tables,” with their displays of wings, feet, bones, feathers, puzzles, and photographs, were three-deep in enthusiasts all day. And from 11AM and 1 PM, Sullivan the Golden Eagle, handled by Billy Thein, presided over all with regal dignity. We have to be careful with Sullivan, because a bate with a flashing wing could smack a near-by admirer. So we settled him in a corner formed by our tables, where bird and audience could view one another at a safe distance.

Billy with Sullivan, the Golden Eagle
Billy holds Sullivan, a Golden Eagle

Duck Days visitors are always a knowledgeable and curious group. Questions ranged from how to manage kestrel nest boxes to how to spot a flying eagle among soaring Turkey Vultures and how to differentiate a Red-tail and a Swainson's Hawk in the air. Except for Sullivan, all our birds on this visit were non-releasable because they imprinted on humans at an early age. This gave us an opportunity to talk to the visitors about the necessity for proper food for healthy fast-growing young raptors (three weeks from hatching to fledging for kestrels, for example), and how other aspects of raptor development, hunting, breeding, and safety from predation, are also negatively affected by improper imprinting. The California Raptor Center does a very good and careful job of baby raising, but the early influence of the parent birds is often vital to the long-term success of these birds in the wild.

Baby season is almost here again. Don't be a Raptor-napper! Be sure that the baby you bring to CRC is actually in need of care: is it injured, or in danger from cars or predators? Are the parents around?  See more information here.  If you have questions about any baby, call CRC at 530-752-6091 or check our website.

CRC Goes to The Lucas Winery

Presentation at the Lucas Winery

The Lucas Winery in Lodi, which since 1978 has produced a celebrated organic Zinfandel, invited The California Raptor Center to present a program to its wine club members on Saturday, July 25. A small but sophisticated audience seemed charmed by our wonderful ambassadors, Luna the Great Horned Owl, and Jack the Red-tail, and explored the biology and lives of these and other local raptors. David Lucas has three active Barn Owl boxes among his vines (free rodenticide!) and is proud of the Red-tailed Hawk nest in his front yard – part of a growing awareness of the value of raptors for local agricultural businesses. CRC's team included Sallie Reynolds, who introduced CRC and discussed the birds and bio artifacts we take to off-site events. Liz Williamson showed off Luna (whose golden eyes were particularly gorgeous that day); and Kevin Hawk Hammer presented Jack, who – no surprise – was in fine feather and the hit of the event. 

CRC at Vacaville Library

Raptors displayed to children at Vacaville Library

Vacaville Library has a wonderful children's room, complete with beautiful, stylized wooden "trees" to climb and many, many books to explore.  Particularly on nature and specifically on raptors. Children's Librarian Nancy Vitavec has a great collection on owls, hawks, vultures, and falcons, and she invites us every year to bring in the real thing.  In January we gave a presentation to a group that included adults as well as children, emphasizing the biology of each species, and the roles raptors play in the local ecology.

We also enjoy pointing out the many opportunities Valley residents can find to observe these wonderful birds in the wild.  The audience was lively and well-informed, and, as always, with probing questions.  Docents: Rachel Avila, Cailey Cavanaugh, Heila Hubbard, Sally Reynolds, with Luna, Grasshopper, Simon, and Spar.

CRC at Riverbank School

Volunteers show children a Great-horned Owl

In January, CRC's Off-site Team gave four presentations to classes of third graders at the Riverbank School in West Sacramento.  We have always found the children at Riverbank to be extremely engaged and well-prepared, with good comprehension and really excellent questions.  The goal of the school seems to include an understanding and appreciation of nature and the local wild species, so we always enjoy our sessions there, where we can discuss local raptor species and the part they play in the wilds of the city.    The teachers are also well-informed and very helpful.  Docents:  Julie Cotton, Hawk Hammer, Heila Hubbard, Mark Moore, Arlene Motter and Sally Reynolds, with Jack, Grasshopper, Simon, Luna and Spar.

UC Davis's Parent and Family Showcase

Volunteers show raptorsCAL Aggie Alumni Association some weeks ago invited the Raptor Center to present a talk with birds to the Parent and Family Showcase this year. So on November 1, seven volunteers from the CRC Off-site Team and five of our Education Ambassadors entertained a group of 150 – 200 people with an hour-long program, beginning with a description of what CRC does, its affiliation with the University and the VMTH in particular, and opportunities open to student volunteers. A brief introduction on raptors in general followed; then each handler in turn told an individual bird's story and described its species and role in our environment. Our emphasis was on conservation – we had Grasshopper the Swainson's Hawk and Simon the Burrowing Owl, two local species greatly in need of human help today. Sullivan the Golden Eagle made a regal representative for both of CRC's dual roles, rehabilitation and education. And the owls, exhibiting a wide spectrum of raptor problems and solutions, were, as always, audience favorites. At the end of our allotted hour, Becky Heard, organizer of the weekend's events, thanked us and encouraged everyone to visit and support the Raptor Center. Afterwards, we moved our operations, on request, to an adjoining room to answer the remaining questions and to allow hands-on exploration of the specimens on display – wings and very impressive raptor feet. 

 Volunteers attending: Rachel Avila, Julia Cotton, Mark Moore, Arlene Motter, Diana Munoz, Brenton Pierce, Sallie Reynolds. Birds: Sullivan, Grasshopper, Simon, Miso the Western Screech Owl, and Luna the Great Horned Owl. Photo by Alison Sanjo Pierce.

Davis Farmers' Market Festival

Volunteers show raptors at Davis Farmers Market

On Saturday, October 25, the California Raptor Center and its wonderful education birds participated in the annual Davis Farmers' Market Festival. Despite threats of rain, a team of seven of our experienced volunteers showed five raptors, from small owls and falcons, to large hawks and owls – and talked to visitors about local raptors and how they are important in our environment. Volunteers and birds together kept our booth crowded for hours with delighted attendees - from the very young to the young at heart. The Festival organizers dropped by, as well, to say that the event would not have been complete without us. Most of all, it was great to hear how much the Raptor Center means to the Davis community.

 CRC was represented by volunteers Mark Moore, Rachel Avila, Julia Cotton, Larry Guenther, Diana Munoz, Lynae Shubin, and Liz Williamson. CRC birds: Jack the Red-tailed Hawk, Luna the Great Horned Owl,  Miso the Western Screech Owl, Simon the Burrowing Owl, and Spar the American Kestrel.

Hootsko & Mungwu at the 22nd Annual Tribal/EPA Conference

Sallie with Luna, the Great-horned Owl

We expected Sullivan the Golden Eagle to be the star of the Raptor Center's presentation at the EPA Region 9, 22nd Annual Tribal/EPA Conference in Sacramento on October 15. And indeed, Sully was a conversation stopper as he rode on the fist through the hotel corridors to our display site in the ballroom. But it was little Simon the Burrowing Owl – Hootsko, in Hopi, we learned – who stole our show.

Four volunteers from CRC's Education Team presented the birds requested by the Conference organizers: Sullivan (Kwa Hu), Simon (Hootsko), Luna the Great Horned Owl (Mongwu), and Jack the Red-tailed Hawk (Pala Kwayo). This was not a formal presentation, but an active display – small groups of tribal representatives and members of the EPA moved through the room, stopping to talk to each of us and to examine the specimen feathers and bones we had brought. People approached us, quietly studying the birds and asking how they had come to live in captivity. Many expressed great interest not only in the role the CRC and the UC Davis Veterinary School play in raptor rehabilitation, but in their contributions to conservation. In turn we asked audience members about their experiences with these species in their homelands. The event was a wonderful mutual exchange.

Owls at the Bookstore

CRC Volunteers display Owls

Three CRC owls were showcased at the Davis Avid Reader bookstore on the evening of August 23 at a program about rescuing owls. Simon, the Burrowing Owl, Miso, the Western Screech Owl, and Luna, the Great Horned Owl, all appeared to give a welcoming hoot about literature at the book-signing of Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family by Melissa Hart. Volunteer handlers told the stories of these three owls and introduced the work of the California Raptor Center. At the conclusion, the owl-captivated audience asked for an encore appearance of the birds after the author’s presentation. The owls quietly reappeared for a curtain call. “This is the best book-signing I’ve ever had. I wish they all were like this. I’m so happy the owls could be here,” said author Melissa Hart.