Raptor Experience

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience

The Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience is the live raptor education program of the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. What better way to celebrate the wildness of this wonderful area than by sharing some of its most spectacular wild animals with our guests. Visitors to the Center get an up-close-and-personal view of some of Wyoming’s most recognized predators—the birds of prey!

The birds of the Raptor Experience are also available for outreach programs. Please e-mail Melissa Hill or call her at 307-578-4111 for more information or to schedule a program.

Current Schedule:

  • Meet our birds in the Center’s main lobby, daily at 1 p.m. This informal program features at least one of our avian ambassadors and their handlers. Take this opportunity to see the birds, ask questions, and learn more about raptors.

Visit the Raptor Experience blog!

This program is funded in part by the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation, the W.H. Donner Foundation, and the Donner Canadian Foundation—the latter in partnership with the University of Wyoming’s Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center.

Our Adopt-a-Raptor Program

You can help us sustain the Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience! Participate in our Adopt-a-Raptor program by making a donation that feeds and provides care for one of our amazing birds. In doing so, you play a role in our commitment to keeping our flock healthy by providing the highest quality food, vitamins, housing, and medical care—for the rest of their lives.

Our Adopt-a-Raptor program offers various levels of “adoption.” Choose one of our birds and click the links below to find the level that’s right for you. And thank you for your support of our Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience!

Meet our birds

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Salem the American kestrel

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Salem the American kestrel

Salem: American kestrel

The newest member of flock: Salem, the American kestrel. Last July, this handsome little fellow was found along a road near Salem, Utah—hence his name. Not only was he nearly starved, but he had suffered severe trauma to his right eye, most likely from colliding with a vehicle. Because of the trauma, he has lost vision in that eye, making it impossible for him to be returned to the wild.

The American kestrel is the smallest falcon species found in North America, typically weighing three to six ounces—that’s less than a roll of pennies! Kestrels primarily hunt small mammals, insects, and some small birds, particularly in fields and meadows. They are extremely common throughout the country and are often spotted on power lines and fence posts throughout Wyoming.

Salem joins our other birds for programs at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and at schools, churches, libraries, and other venues throughout the region. We hope you’ll stop by to say “hi” to him the next time you’re in!

Click here to adopt Salem

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Kateri, golden eagle

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Kateri the golden eagle

Kateri: golden eagle

This beautiful golden eagle was hit by a vehicle and suffered a compound fracture to her right humerus. Surgery was performed and a pin was placed in the bone to try to repair the damage but, unfortunately, she did not regain full flight abilities.

The golden eagle is one of only two eagle species native to North America, but found throughout the northern hemisphere. These are incredibly powerful birds that feed largely on medium-sized mammals such as rabbits, hares, marmots, and game birds, but they do occasionally take down prey as large as pronghorn antelope. Golden eagles typically weigh between 8 and 12 pounds but can be as large as 14 and often have a 7-foot wingspan, making them one of the largest raptors in North America.

Visit Kateri’s Facebook page!

Click here to adopt Kateri

Kateri was named in a contest! Click here to read more about it.

Great-horned owl: Teasdale

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Teasdale the great horned owl

Teasdale: great horned owl

Teasdale the great horned owl was found injured on the ground on New Year’s Eve 2010, by a man and his dog hiking near Teasdale, Utah (hence his name). The man planned to take him to Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Price, Utah, right away. Unfortunately, there had been an avalanche covering the main road out of that area. He instead arranged to drop Teasdale off at the home of friends of the rehabilitation center’s director. The friend then drove Teasdale to Green River, Utah, on New Year’s Day, going the LONG way because the avalanche had not yet been cleared. At that point, folks from Second Chance arrived and took him the rest of the way for treatment.

Once at the center, his injury was evaluated. He had fractured several bones in his right wing and they had already healed improperly. Because of this misalignment, Teasdale cannot fly well enough to survive on his own in the wild, and so will live in captivity for the rest of his life.

Great horned owls are amazing predators. They are extremely powerful and can carry prey of their own body weight (most raptors can only carry up to half their own weight). Some of their favorite prey items include voles, rabbits, skunks (it’s okay, they can’t smell the skunks), hawks, other owls, and even cats and small dogs.

Visit Teasdale’s Facebook page!

Click here to adopt Teasdale

Red-tailed hawk: Isham

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Isham the red-tailed hawk

Isham: red-tailed hawk

At approximately three or four years of age, Isham, named after one of Buffalo Bill’s favorite horses, was struck by a car and taken to Talking Talons Youth Leadership in Tiejeras, New Mexico, for treatment. Unfortunately, he suffered such severe damage to his right eye that it had to be removed. With the loss of one eye, he no longer has depth perception, which makes catching small animals like mice, ground squirrels, and snakes very difficult. This disability also leaves him completely blind on his right side, making him an easy target to other predators.

Because he could not be returned to the wild and he had a great disposition, the Talking Talons staff decided to train him as an education bird. He helped teach the public about birds of prey for five years at Talking Talons, until the group had to reorganize and needed to reduce the number of animals they cared for. While they were very sad to see Isham leave, we couldn’t be happier to receive such a wonderful bird for our program.

The red-tailed hawk is the most common hawk species in North America. The birds are found in almost every environment from Alaska to Central America, and have no problem living right alongside humans. In fact, a very famous red-tail, “Pale Male,” has made New York City and Central Park his home for several years.

Visit Isham’s Facebook page!

Click here to adopt Isham

Peregrine falcon: Hayabusa

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Hayabusa the peregrine falcon

Hayabusa: peregrine falcon

Hayabusa came to us from Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation in Tucson, Arizona. She suffered an impact injury near the “wrist” joint on her right wing. Unfortunately, the damage was so severe that she never regained full extension of that wing and, to this day, has very poor flight. Because peregrine falcons are extremely acrobatic and rely on their speed and aerial maneuvering to catch prey, she can never return to the wild.

She is named for the Japanese word for peregrine falcon, “hayabusa.” That also just happens to be the name of the fastest street-legal, production motorcycle in the world—quite appropriate considering the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet, capable of speeds in excess of two hundred miles per hour while in a dive, or “stoop.”

Haya LOVES to eat. She will eat anything, anytime, and in front of anyone! This makes her a huge crowd pleaser as we like to feed her in public most days. If you see her in person and she isn’t eating, check the ground below her—you’ll probably see her left-overs.

Visit Hayabusa’s Facebook page!

Click here to adopt Hayabusa

Turkey vulture: Suli

Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience: Suli the turkey vulture

Suli: turkey vulture

Suli was found in a haystack in Kansas when she was only a couple weeks old. The couple that found her placed her in a nearby building, assuming her parents would hear her and continue to care for her at the new nest site. What they didn’t know is that vultures don’t have a voicebox and can only hiss and grunt. When Suli’s parents didn’t return, the couple took her to the Milford Nature Center in Junction City, Kansas. The center did not have an adult turkey vulture to act as a foster parent, so Suli grew up with people. Because of this, she did not gain the critical skills for survival that her parents would have taught her, and she can never be released back into the wild.

Named for the Cherokee word for vulture, Suli is very shy when you first meet her. Every person that works with her has to gain her trust before she’s comfortable with them, but once she is, she’s happy to go anywhere with them.

Despite what you may have heard, vultures do have standards when it comes to their food. Even a vulture won’t eat a putrid carcass. They prefer their food relatively fresh. As one of the few birds with a sense of smell, they typically locate their food by scent about a day after it has died—but if it is left out too long, even vultures pass it up! If you’re up for watching Suli eat her dinner, click here for a video!

Visit Suli’s Facebook page!

Click here to adopt Suli