Bird Biographies

All of the birds in the Shaver’s Creek Raptor Center are here for a reason; they would be unable to survive if they were released into the wild, due to past injuries or, as in the case of the kestrel, because they were imprinted on humans at a young age. Each bird has its own backstory and personality. Read on for Shaver’s Creek bird of prey biographies and fun facts about these resident raptors!

To learn about our raptors, read below:

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Wingspan:  76”            Weight: 9­–10 lbs.

Animal Fact: Bald Eagles are made to eat fish. They have rough scaly knobs called “spicules” on the bottom of their talons to give them a better grip. Bald Eagles also have serrations on the roof of their mouths to help hold slippery fish.

Backstories: Our larger, female Bald Eagle came to Shaver’s Creek in May 1989 from the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Center in Delaware. Originally found in British Columbia, Canada, the bird had a gunshot wound to her left wing, requiring amputation. Her right wing has also experienced some loss of muscle control. Because of the amputation of the left wing, the eagle cannot fly and must have specially designed perches that allow her easy access to all parts of her enclosure.

The smaller Bald Eagle is male. He was found shot on January 1, 1992, by a hunter in South Carolina. An examination at the Sea Islands Veterinary Hospital found no broken bones — only damaged tissue and head trauma. The bird’s recovery progressed well at first, but within a month an infection quickly spread throughout a wing, requiring a life-saving amputation. He came to Shaver’s Creek in June 1992.

Our third Bald Eagle is a juvenile, which is apparent from a hint of dark feathers on his head. He comes to us from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania. His right wing required amputation due to an injury. In the fall of 2011, after much training on the glove, he returned to Hawk Mountain for his first educational program. He resides in an enclosure separate from the other two Bald Eagles.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Wingspan: 78”            Weight: 10 lbs.

Animal Fact: Golden Eagles are excellent hunters and will often work in pairs to collect prey. One eagle will drive the prey to its awaiting partner.

Backstory: Hatched at Hershey Zoo of America in 1990, the Golden Eagle is a beautiful, magnificent bird. She was released as an immature bird with a radio tracker near Stormstown, Pennsylvania. Her journey was apparently smooth sailing — until the radio tracker stopped transmitting her movement. Upon investigation, researchers found that she had unfortunately been electrocuted on Bald Eagle Ridge. After colliding with a power line, she sustained injuries to her beak, throat, left wing, and one of the talons on her right foot. She underwent procedures to repair her wing, talon, and a hole in her throat; the surgery to repair the latter subsequently caused her beak to misalign, leaving her unable to tear up her food sufficiently. She is fed a specially prepared diet of sliced venison or beef with vitamins, and, as a calcium supplement, oyster shells. Although she is more than 20 years old, she has lots of energy and is frequently used for educational programs.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Wingspan: 48”            Weight: 3–4 lbs.

Animal Fact: It has an intimidating cry heard from the sky, which is often described as a long, shrill “keee-eeee-aarr” call. In movies and television, the Red-tail call is often played for a Bald Eagle, because it sounds, to some, more powerful and impressive.

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Wingspan: 44–48”                        Weight: 1.5–2 lbs.

Animal Fact: Barred owls are extremely vocal and can hoot, shriek, trill, and cackle. Their most common call is a series of eight hoots, often translated as “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all!”

Backstories: The largest of the Barred Owls at Shaver’s Creek is a female and has been here since July 1989, making her the oldest bird at the center (at least 24 years old). She received a permanent wing injury after being struck by a car and was treated by the Sharon Audubon Center in Connecticut before being transferred here. She is no longer used for educational programs — you might say she’s retired. She has a cataract in her left eye, giving it a whitish appearance.

The smallest Barred Owl is a male that arrived in August 2006 after colliding with a vehicle — resulting in a partial wing amputation.

The third Barred Owl is a female that arrived in 2007. She had had a full wing amputation in order to save her life, and came to us from Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda.

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)

Wingspan: 22”            Weight: 4–6 oz.

Animal Fact: Screech Owls have two distinct color phases (or varieties) — gray and red. In Pennsylvania, there are more gray phase owls, perhaps because there are more gray trees to camouflage with. Both color phases might be found in one nest of young.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Wingspan: 55”                        Weight: 3.5–5 lbs.

Animal Fact: Great Horned Owls are sometimes called “The Tigers of the Sky” because they can take down prey that is two to three times larger than they are. Their only natural predators are other Great Horned Owls.

Backstories: Both of our Great Horned Owls are females. The slightly smaller owl arrived at the center in 1993, after getting tangled in a barbed wire fence and severely damaging her left wing. She smelled strongly of skunk — perhaps chasing one for a meal before the incident. She is still used for programs and was the model for our Great Horned Owl logo.

The second owl, which is slightly larger, arrived in 2002 from the West Virginia Raptor Rehab Center.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Wingspan: 72”            Weight: 2–4 lbs.

Animal Fact: The Turkey Vulture uses not only its sense of sight to detect food — it uses its sense of smell. This is a characteristic of vultures in the Americas. Vultures in Europe, Asia, and Africa rely primarily on sight to find prey.

Backstory: This bird is male and has been at the center since 2006 when he came to us from Centre Wildlife Care. His injuries were due to a vehicle collision.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)           

Wingspan: 44”            Weight: 11.5 lbs.

Animal Fact: The heart-shaped face of a Barn Owl helps funnel sound to their inner ears, which are situated inside the facial disk behind their eyes.

Backstories: The larger Barn Owl is female, and she arrived at the center in 2002 from the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center with a wing injury from a vehicle collision. The smaller Barn Owl is male; he arrived in 2008 from Houston, Texas, with a wing injury from a vehicle collision.

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Wingspan: 22”            Weight: 3.56 oz.

Animal Fact: Kestrels are one of the few raptors with easily distinguishable male and female markings. Males have bright blue wings; females have rusty-colored wings.

Backstory: The kestrel is the only bird that lives at the center due to something other than a physical injury; she was raised by a falconer and, therefore, has been imprinted (wants to be around humans), so she is unlikely to survive in the wild. She is very friendly and will fly down to greet visitors, but do not stick your fingers in the cage! She likes to nip and also likes to stay on the glove once she’s on it. She does have an unrelated injury; one of her eyes was damaged from a collision with her cage door.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Wingspan: 40”            Weight: 2–3 lbs.

Animal Fact: If you think you see a Red-shouldered Hawk soaring above you, look for a semi-transparent patch on the outer edges of its wings. This is often called a “window,” and easily distinguishes it from Red-tailed or Broad-winged Hawks. 

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Wingspan:  3642”            Weight: 15 oz.

Animal Fact: The Short-eared Owl is listed as an endangered species in Pennsylvania because its preferred habitat — undisturbed meadows and grassy areas — is decreasing. It needs this brushy habitat to lay eggs, which are often found in small depressions lined with grass and feathers on the ground.

Backstory: This bird is male, and he came to us from Centre Wildlife Care in 2011 with permanent wing damage. Short-eared owls are ground nesters. He’s still getting used to being on display and is often hiding in the back of his enclosure, where a tray of leaves and other items from the forest floor are provided for him.

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