CCEEC houses a number of non-releasable animals that, by special permit, are used in educational programs and studies. To encourage the appreciation of raptors, many of these birds are viewable even when the visitor center itself is closed.
Our resident Peregrine Falcon came to us from a Central Pennsylvania wildlife rehabilitation facility in 2013. Male falcons are slightly smaller than their female counterparts, and this male was found with a broken wing as a first year bird. The injured wing still droops slightly, and prevents him from flying and therefore being released.
Peregrine Falcon: Falco peregrinus
Range: Widespread across North America, year-round in western US and northern Mexico; summer in Alaska and northern Canada; winter in eastern US. Worldwide, found on all continents except Antartica.
Habitat: Open areas, nesting at high altitudes on cliffs or skyscrapers
Nest: Simple scrape on ground or ledge located at a range of altitudes from 25 – 1,300 ft
Eggs: 2-5, creamy to brown blotched with brown, red or purple
Diet: Primarily birds and occasionally bats
Trivia: This speedy falcon was formerly known as the Duck Hawk, named for one of its most common prey items.
The art of falconry (training birds of prey) dates back centuries, and Peregrine Falcons figured prominently in history as prized hunting birds.
Great Horned Owl
The darker owl visible in the enclosure, also in the below photo, has resided at CCEEC for over 20 years, and has helped thousands of people understand the role predators play in an ecosystem by attending programs. While his coop-mates dislike programs, they serve as companions.
Great-horned Owls are sometimes put at odd with humans due to their varied diet, which may include domestic chickens or homing pigeons. In general, they prefer smaller mammals like mice and shrews, which are "fast-food"; quick to catch, kill, and swallow.
If you hear owls hooting to each other, typically in the fall, you can hear a distinct difference in their individual voices. This could be true for many species of birds, but we rarely notice, or take the time to listen.
Great-horned Owl: Bubo virginianus
Range: Widespread year-round across North America
Habitat: Open woodland, sometimes thicker forest growth and open agricultural areas
Nest: Variable, often adopted from abandoned hawk nests, or other species including squirrels
Eggs: 1-4 whitish, nearly spherical in shape
Diet: Highly diverse and dependent on prey availability; primarily mammals and birds, but also fish and invertebrates.
Trivia: The sound typically associated with owls, a deep "hoot" is the call of the Great-horned.
Most of its prey are killed through the sheer power of the foot muscles, capable of exerting 28lbs of force when the talons are clenched
Two Rough-legged Hawks reside with us permanently. The larger hawk (top photo), often seen on the perches in the coop, is a female. She is unable to fly due to an injury to her wing, inflicted by a car strike. She was housed by a zoo before she passed into our care. TEST
The slightly smaller bird (bottom photo), seen on the ground of the coop, is a male, struck by a truck in Dallas, PA around 1995. He developed a foot problem in captivity and was thus unable to be released. Rough-leggeds are prone to foot problems, since their feet are relatively small, adapted both to the cold weather of the Arctic Circle where smaller limbs are ideal for maintaining body temperature, and to their typical diet of lemmings.
Rough-legged Hawk: Buteo lagopus
Range: Breeds in northern Canada and Alaska, winters across US except southeastern states
Habitat: Open areas, such as tundra, grassland, scattered coniferous forest
Nest: Large bowl of sticks located on a ledge, lined with mosses, sedges, and grass
Eggs: 1-7, off-white with brown blotches
Diet: Small animals, mostly mammals such as lemmings, also some birds
Trivia: The name "rough-legged" stems from the feathers found all the way down to the toes, a characteristic also seen in the Golden Eagle.
Overwintering Rough-leggeds can be seen, and unfortunately often injured, at airfields, whose wide open spaces mimic their northern habitat.