Our science club took a field trip to the local Cascades Raptor Center. I hadn’t gone since my days as a homeschool student and was so pleased! The CRC has done great work expanding and improving their area and operations.
My favorite: a kestrel
The Raptor Center exists to rescue and rehabilitate raptors in our area and to educate people about these beautiful birds. They have around 50 birds that live there year round, unable to be returned to the wild. All these beauties are on large (huge) outdoor aviaries and easy to view. There is factual information for each bird, as well as a name and the story of how that bird came to the CRC.
For a small fee, anyone can go in and wander among the birds to their heart’s content. Our group paid for a short program. In the program a CRC employee told us all about raptors. We got to handle a foot, wings, and a bone (all from birds who didn’t survive their rescue). The talk was given with a gorgeous Osprey perched on Carrie’s glove. After the talk we wandered around looking at the caged birds. The CRC is in the densely wooded hills just south of Eugene; paths wind up and down hills, with a giant nest to perch in and numerous photo ops.
Even though I was managing Baby-Bug and trying to keep Sister-Bug engaged, I came away with a lot of information about raptors that I hadn’t known.
- A raptor is defined as a bird that kills with its feet.
- An Osprey can dive 4 feet underwater to catch a fish!
- Not just owls can turn their heads around nearly all the way – all birds can because they have around 14 cervical (neck) vertebrae.
- The foot of an Osprey is rough, with small points called spicules to hold a slippery fish.
I could go on. It was so much fun. The kids ran from cage to cage. Finding the Hedwig-like Snowy Owl produced quite a bit of delight from our Harry Potter fans. One kid had a tape measure and showed us the wingspan for each bird (the Bald Eagle was the biggest). My kids came away with more interest in birds and bird watching than they had previously demonstrated.
From a simple visit to volunteering possibilities, the Cascades Raptor Center is a local treasure and somewhat off the beaten path. It truly was a fascinating field trip that appealed to kids of all ages.