Meadowside Nature Center (MNC) is home to injured, un-releasable birds of prey. The birds are located in enclosures behind the nature center. Stop by to visit anytime the nature center is open, Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. year round. Our Raptor Walkway is newly renovated to increase accessibility so please come visit our wonderful raptors!
“Orion” is a male American bald eagle who came to Meadowside Nature Center in 1998 from the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, Alaska. While hunting for fish in Alaska, he got caught in the lines of a fishing trawler, injuring his left wing. He was determined to be non-releasable because of his wing injury and he can no longer fly.
When Orion first arrived at MNC in 1998, the feathers on his head and tail were brown, not the characteristic white head you see today. A bald eagle’s white feathers don’t come in until they are about four to five years old. Orion makes his presence known at Meadowside with his large size and loud vocalizations. His absolute favorite food at Meadowside is fish!
“Duke” is a female red-tailed hawk that came to Meadowside in December of 2011. Her official name is Sir Gallahad, but now she is more simply known as “Duke.” Rehabilitator Suzanne Shoemaker, of Owl Moon Raptor Center, found Duke in 2009 off of a footpath along the Monocacy River in Frederick. The source of Duke’s injury was unknown, but it was clear that her left wing was inflamed and drooping. After much time and care, it was determined that even though she is partially flighted, she would never fly well enough to hunt or survive on her own.
Duke is a most beautiful red-tailed hawk! She carries the signature deep brick red tail that is characteristic of all red-tailed hawks. Red-tailed hawks are the largest hawk native to our area. Over 90% of their diet is made up of rodents. Like other species of hawks, they can often be spotted on utility poles and other high top perches while looking for prey to swoop down upon.
NOTE: Duke is an education bird and not currently on display.
“Sinbad” is a male barred owl that came to Meadowside in 1993. He was hit by a car and taken to Second Chance Wildlife Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. One of his eyes was damaged so badly that the vet had to remove it completely. Though he is fully flighted, he is non-releasable because of the loss of vision in one eye. Because of his vision impairment, he could not hunt or survive on his own in the wild.
In late fall and winter, we often can hear Sinbad making his signature “Who cooks for you, Who cooks for you all” call into the forest. We are lucky to have Sinbad, since so few people ever get a good look at owls because of their nocturnal habits.
“Sterling” is a male barred owl who came to Meadowside in spring 2013. He flew into a delivery truck and got caught between the driver’s door and side mirror. The driver kindly took him to Owl Moon Raptor Center where he was treated for his broken right wing. Unfortunately his wing did not heal correctly and even though he is partially flighted, he will never be able to hunt or survive on his own.
Since Sterling is in training to be one of our education ambassadors, he is housed off display in one of our training mews. Barred owls are often called “Teddy Bear Owls” due to their large brown eyes and soft features and Sterling certainly lives up to the nickname!
NOTE: Sterling is an education bird and not currently on display.
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
“Summer”, a female Red-shouldered Hawk, came to Meadowside in the spring of 2015. She was found as a fledgling with signs of head trauma. After a long recovery and possible symptoms of West Nile Virus, Summer lost sight in her right eye and has limited sight in her left eye that makes her non-releasable.
Red-shouldered hawks get their name from the reddish brown feathers on the upper wings. This gives the appearance of having red shoulders, although this part of the wing is actually the hawk’s wrist.
These birds of prey are common in stream valley forests with an open under-story. They also have a reputation as one of the most vocal of the North American hawks; look and listen for their high-pitched calls while hiking through the woods.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
“Precious” is a female turkey vulture that came to Meadowside in 1991. X-rays show that she was shot in her right wing, and it was so severely damaged that she can no longer fly. She is non-releasable because she can no longer fly.
Precious is older now and likes to take it easy. In warmer weather, Precious likes to sun herself. On those days, you can find her spreading her wings out wide to soak in the sun.
Turkey vultures do not hunt live prey like other raptors. Instead, they use their keen sense of smell to find ripe carcasses of animals that are already dead from disease, natural causes, or vehicle collisions. In this way, they are considered “nature’s recyclers” by helping clean up disease in the environment. They are majestic but unsteady in flight; you will often see them riding thermals in the sky and making wobbly circles high up in the sky.