Visit in Place
Visit our facility and our many programs and events from the comfort and safety of your home! Because schools, events and other venues have been closed during this pandemic, your visits and donations on our website are the only way we can ask for your support. Please use our donate button to help us keep our birds fed and cared for during this very difficult time. You don’t have to be a member of PayPal to use the donate button. You can enter any amount, and you can also make a monthly contribution. Thank you so very much for your financial support while we pull together! Visit our YouTube channel for more:
Celebrating Independence Day with Our Bald Eagle
What’s the secret to a great Fourth of July celebration? Exercise, a bit of horse(eagle?)play, a vigorous bath, and a carefully-prepared meal! As America celebrates our Independence Day, we’d like to treat our audiences to 11 minutes of uncensored, bald eagle antics. For those of you who spend hours glued to the wonderful nest cams around the country, hoping for a few minutes of a food drop, or the feeding of babies, we hereby present some of the most interesting and hilarious footage we’ve ever captured of our seven year-old female. The opening minute shows our girl “playing” with a chunk of cottonwood branch which she inherited from our beloved female golden eagle, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 40 years. This unremarkable piece of branch was carried around for perhaps 60 days each year during the nesting season by our golden, but it’s become a favorite toy for our bald. We find it EVERYWHERE in her enclosure, from up on her high, corner hood, to floating in her large black bath. Apparently it’s also some kind of Jazzercise weight! At 1:02, we get VERY up close and personal as our eagle decides to check out the new camera’s position in the pen. It’s very strongly adhered to a metal post with a powerful magnet, but it’s still moveable by the strong and extremely curious raptor. The fish-eye lens is distorting the shape and size of her beak somewhat, but it’s this strong and sharp yellow tool that allows a tough fish skull to be ripped open. At 2:10 you’ll get a quick, but great view of the inside of her mouth. We’re pretty sure that what she’s also doing is something called “feaking”, which is an ancient English falconry term for the cleaning of the beak. Almost all raptors regularly wipe and move their beak on a branch, perch, or even the glove of their handler after eating, in order to remove blood and “schmoo” (another technical term) from their faces and maintain cleanliness. 4:21 is bath time! We’ve posted some bath videos of our gal before, but this angle demonstrates that she really is a SEA eagle. Bathing is critical for birds to maintain their waterproofing, and especially important during the winter months to ensure that clean and healthy feathers can maintain bird’s body temperature. The party concludes at 8:10 with the end of the eagle’s dinner. We sometimes find one large piece of meat in the bath, uneaten and many feet away from where we place her food each afternoon. Raccoons are well-known for washing their prey in the water, and apparently at least one bald eagle does the same! Is she rehydrating leftovers, or taking her dinner along while she has a sip during meal time? We’re honestly not certain; what we do know is that of all the raptors we care for, she’s the one who will spread her leftovers all over the pen. Let’s follow her lead and enjoy a bit of exercise, and dip in the pool and good food and frivolity…HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY TO ALL!
One of Denver’s beautiful older neighborhoods populated with exquisite trees is also home to some of America’s stunning apex predators. Although, if you just walked or drove along this street without paying any attention, you would miss all of it. Fortunately, the people living in this neighborhood are very accommodating to a family of avian neighbors that are quite difficult to avoid noticing. They leave body parts scattered on the lawns and they white wash their backyard patios with droppings that are impossible to miss. This video series is a tribute to a quiet little enclave of people who have embraced a family of Great Horned Owls, Bubo virginianus, nesting and raising one youngster among a fascinated group of earthbound fans. In this first of the series, we meet all three members of this Bubo family. Those acquainted with the nesting phase indicated a second sibling was part of the earlier family. Something happened and only one fledgling is now present in the area around the nest site. Thanks to everyone on Crestmoor Drive that accommodated a lot of curiosity and intruding optics into their normally peaceful lives. In these viral times, we can learn to enjoy what beauty there is around us, even if it is as wild as Colorado’s most successful crepuscular raptors. They are living in the middle of us if we only take time to notice. Thanks to Karen for sharing her neighborhood find. Discover more about our American raptors and help support Colorado’s oldest and most comprehensive raptor sanctuary by viewing more of our videos and pages. There will be more from Crestmoor Drive as we edit hundreds of minutes of video. Stay tuned here and on Our YouTube .
On this first day of May, our 39 year old golden eagle got a brand-new and larger bath tub. With the temperature over the past two days hovering in the mid-80s, our Aquila quickly surmised what Peter was doing. Within ten minutes of him completing the install, she decided to go for a dip. For those of you whom have never had the opportunity to watch an eagle bathe, please enjoy, and remember that in these viral times, we’re relying on your donations to keep our birds fed and cared for. Thank you and keep cool!
Our third Facebook live-cast with the HRCA Back Country Wilderness Area team introduces the Peregrine Falcon. Enjoy this stunning speedster whose name means wanderer or pilgrim, and is an endangered species recovery success. Your donations during these viral times help the Raptor Education Foundation continue to care for and manage our live eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and vultures. Thank you for your support.
Our second Facebook live-cast with the HRCA Back Country Wilderness Area team introduces the Swainson’s Hawk. Enjoy this beautiful hawk that winters in Argentina, and has just returned to Colorado on its annual migration. Your donations during these viral times help the Raptor Education Foundation continue to care for and manage our live eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and vultures. Thank you for your support.
Times are tough right now…things are weird, let’s face it. On top of everything else, we’ve been dealing with a “mystery” animal digging around the northwest edge of our mews, around our two large eagle enclosures, and apparently entering and exiting at will. Well yesterday, the mystery was solved when we finally captured the culprit on our Arlo camera system!
This little stinker is ALL attitude, and ZERO fear! You’re watching a compilation of four videos, captured in the early pre-dawn hours of March 26th. Our 30 year-old male bald eagle was rudely awakened from his sleep, and our male golden, 20 years old and visible in the upper right hand corner of the screen, seemed mildly amused. Thank goodness our raptors are well-fed, and used to food that isn’t still moving!
Trapping and relocating a raccoon (which is what we thought our visitor was) is one thing, but a skunk is an entirely different matter! We’ve blocked up holes and fortified the fencing, but this resourceful omnivore is still trying to scrounge eagle dinner leftovers. So now, we’re battling a Mustelid (Mustelidae…Google it!) and COVID-19! Stay safe and healthy everyone!
Several days after the striped visitor upset our eagles, he came back during the snowstorm of April 2nd. This time our black and white intruder lingered for several hours. Fortunately our male bald eagle restrained himself from going after the “guest” and spared everyone from that infamous aroma!
Nature Chat with Backcountry Director Mark Giebel and Anne Price of the Raptor Education Foundation!
Posted by HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Area on Friday, April 3, 2020
Thanks so much to Mark and Lindsey with HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Area for a fun and informative live chat today! We hope this will be the first of several live programs introducing you to Colorado’s raptors, many which you can see in Highlands Ranch and throughout the Denver Metro Area.
On August 24, 2017 our 31 year old female bald eagle paid a visit to our ace veterinary team at Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital in Aurora. Dr. Matthew Demey, DVM assisted by vet tech Gina Marie, performed a tracheal endoscopy on the eagle, in an attempt to get to the bottom (literally) of a chronic voice loss and upper respiratory infection in our eagle. She hasn’t responded to antibiotics nor (thus far) antifungal medication, so we attempted to see what’s down there. We’ll have to wait between 1-2 weeks for bacterial and fungal culture results, and histopathology from the sample Dr. Demey was able to extract with an instrument inserted down the middle of the scope. It was a tricky procedure complicated by the fact that an Alaskan FEMALE (larger than male) bald eagle has a very long neck. She spent the night recovering from anesthesia in her kennel, and was back out with her “mate”, our 27 year old male, today. Most importantly, despite some significant irritation in her trachea, she was willing to eat and got a bit of anti-inflammatory medication too. Though our elderly lady is semi-retired (thanks to the arrival of our teenager almost a year ago), she is by far the LOUDEST of our birds, and regularly starts talking when she hears our cars arrive in the morning. We miss that classic bald eagle screech and hope that we can help her to start feeling better very soon!
On March 4th, 2020 we were delighted to be invited to an “in-house field trip” at Dutch Creek Elementary in Littleton, Colorado. The first graders, who have been studying birds, were treated to our most popular program, the “Raptor Summit”. After a quick discussion about dinosaurs (always a hit among this age group!) the students met a Swainson’s hawk, peregrine falcon, eastern screech owl and closed the hour with our always-impressive female bald eagle. REF President Anne Price was assisted by Senior Docent Kevin Corwin, and in addition to a discussion about the importance of predators to the human food supply, the kids also had a chance to hear what a bald eagle really sounds like! Many thanks to the Dutch Creek Elementary staff, including teacher Lisa Buescher and parent Tara Alvarez for setting up this program.
During the few years that the bald eagles known as the E-470 eagles were found in an expanded red-tail hawk nest, near the intersection of 120th Ave and E-470, REF formed a group known as the Eagle Brigade. The Eagle Brigade was organized to assist the young eagles when they fledged, because their nest’s location was very close to two very busy roadways with lots of high speed traffic. Little did we know that we’d witness the collapse of the nest, after it became soaked to the point the old dead branch could no longer hold the weight. Thanks to the highway camera placed the the E-470 Highway Authority, the collapse was recorded, REF staff was notified and we responded quickly. With the help of several Eagle Brigade members, we rescued the eaglets and turned them over to the Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Foundation. They spent a year at that facility and were released. Unfortunately, we could not convince authorities to either band them or place telemetry on them to track their movements. Survival rates for young eagles are very poor. We just hope they are still out there.
On January 6th we hosted a special reception at our Brighton office for supporters and sponsors of our snowy owl. While we were prepared for cooler temperatures, the afternoon turned out to be sunny, bright and warm enough for the humans, yet comfortable for our new Arctic Ambassador. Before any of us could discuss anything about owls, however, CPW Raptor Monitor and our frequent raptor ID class teacher Karen Metz announced her arrival in our parking lot with a shout of “JUVENILE GOLDEN!” We all ran outside to find Karen looking up to the north, binoculars “on board”, and pointing to one of the loveliest first-year golden eagles any of us had ever seen. This bird had the classic white patches in the wing, but these were more like elongated tear-drops, rather than circles. The “three points of light” which are characteristic of golden eagles less than one year old were so dramatically apparent in this quick video that Peter shot, all without the aid of a tripod. If you look carefully, you’ll see a quick glimpse at the top of the screen of another raptor: an adult red-tailed hawk, who looks miniscule compared to the eagle! These white marks or spots are the origin of why some American Indians refer to the golden eagle as the spotted eagle. Golden eagles are also referred to as Thunderbird, Brown Eagle, and Mexican Eagle. Later on during Anne’s presentation on the porch, there were at least two times that our snowy stood up tall, looked to the sky and carefully tracked first a bald eagle, and then the same juvenile golden moving across the sky. He is a VERY observant owl and misses nothing. Thanks again to our Snowy Owl Supporters!
November 29, 2020: The storm that settled in over Colorado, scattering white crystalline flakes over the area, quickly assumed epic proportions as inches piled up and the bitter cold turned dangerous. However, as any rancher or farmer knows, the animals must be fed and checked on. Directives from officials to stay at home don’t apply to us, so we made our way to Brighton, some of us from many miles away. Fortunately traffic was almost non-existent and thanks to 4WD, we were able to get to our facility and begin moving thousands of pounds of snow, before we fed the birds. Thanks to Bernie, Alex, Peter and Anne for their timely help clearing paths in the enclosures, allowing our birds to move around more easily and get to their perches without sinking into eight inches of snow! Food freezes quickly under these conditions, and its important for our birds have a chance to eat before that happens. As you can see, they usually waste no time. Our soon-to-be 39 year-old female golden eagle quickly consumed almost one pound of rabbit. You can see her massive crop as she labors to get the extra weight up to her perch, where she then “feaks”, or cleans her beak. Our 17 year-old peregrine falcon relishes his fresh quail as the storm slowly winds down. We are thankful to each and every one of you following us, supporting our 40 year mission through membership, donations, via professional partnerships and in a myriad of other ways that help our raptors continue their educational role as ambassadors from the natural world. Special thanks to Skye for driving one hour each way to feed our feathered friends on this Thanksgiving Day!
November 25, Peter departed his home near 6th Ave and Holly St in Denver, Colorado. and headed east on 8th Ave. As he approached Olive St, he was startled by a large pair of wings flapping over his open sun roof, and not more than 30 feet above his car. As the large bird flew over him, he realized that it was an adult bald eagle! He watched the eagle heading north, and turned on the next street to follow. Would the eagle perch? He looked west, and there she was, sitting atop a convenient perch. He drove a few feet, pulled into someone’s driveway and started recording. People started coming out of their houses in disbelief.
Urban birding doesn’t get much better than this if you like eagles. If you know Denver, then having an eagle in this old residential area is that much more astonishing. Cooper’s Hawks are common, and sometimes a red-tailed hawk, but a bald eagle? Wow!!
St. Mary’s Academy, home of the Wildcats, first booked our programs 25 years ago. We were pleased to come back for their Middle School students in late January, 2018 and once again present our signature program, Raptors & the Environment. The free-flying segment coupled with the role playing have enthralled and enraptured audiences of all ages for 38 years. Below, another school group discovers the magic our programs continue to deliver, since 1980.
Since 1997, when our raptors were part of the inaugural ceremony opening the Birds of Prey course in Beaver Creek, we’ve been the “face” of those raptors which name the runs, jumps and turns featured on the the only American stop on the FIS World Alpine Ski Championship circuit.
Our iconic raptors appear in Beaver Creek Village as well as up on the mountain during this annual competition. Our 37 year old golden eagle continues to be part of the opening and awards ceremonies broadcast world-wide. Over the years she has appeared before television audiences in France, Austria, Italy, Germany, and the United States with tens of millions of ski enthusiasts recognizing her as the Birds of Prey course mascot.
Coverage of our raptors at this international event truly puts our educational mission in front of an worldwide audience!
Interviews for international programs have put Raptor Education Foundation’s mission and birds in front of tens-of-millions of viewers all over the globe.
Since the opening of the Birds of Prey Alpine course in 1997, our female golden eagle has been on the podium with dozens of champion international skiers. 2019 was a very special year; the weather really didn’t keep anyone indoors (at least not for long) and it was absolutely thrilling to be on the sidelines and watch Tommy Ford come down the hill, fast as a peregrine. It’s been a few years since our golden has been next to an American on the podium, and all of us, from spectators to volunteers, media and Tommy’s teammates on the US Ski Team were just giddy with excitement! Just to be clear, you don’t “lose” a place on the podium by much: Tommy was just 0.80 seconds ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen and 1.23 seconds ahead of Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen, both of Norway, who placed second and third, respectively. Shouldn’t we be part of your winning team? Call us at 303-680-8500 or send an e-mail to PR@usaref.org.
Wildlife photographers spend countless hours waiting for opportunities to capture stunning images of eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls in the wild. Raptor Education Foundation creates those opportunities for both professional and amateur photographers during our free flying raptor seminar workshops shown above and the non-flighted sessions below.
The Raptor Education Foundation pioneered presenting raptors in large public settings back in 1982 when our birds were presented in the education pavilion at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado. From there REF’s birds made appearances at a variety of state and county fairs, and we’ve even had our live raptor programs on cruise ships off the coast of Alaska. We continue to set the standard of using non-releasable raptors to educate millions of people to the plight of raptors around the world.