Two new raptors have joined seven fellow birds of prey at the Draper Museum Raptor Experience at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. A tiny saw-whet owl named Remington, and a yet-to-be-named bald eagle, are now members of the Draper Natural History Museum’s flock of avian ambassadors. As with all the birds of the Raptor Experience, the new birds cannot be released into the wild.
The saw-whet owl is just a few inches tall, with a fluffy head of feathers that makes him look top heavy. Many describe the saw-whet as “bursting with attitude.” Weighing in at roughly three ounces, this North American native is one of the smallest birds of prey. Remington arrived from Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation in Utah where staffers cared for him after he was found hanging by a wing, suffering permanent damage.
The Center’s new bald eagle also suffered permanent wing damage, probably due to a collision with a vehicle. The Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) based in Antigo, Wisconsin, treated her injuries and cared for her before her arrival in Cody. She appears to be about three years of age since she doesn’t display the pure white head and tail feathers for which bald eagles are known. In another two or three years, she’ll sport her adult feathers.
“We now have a representative of both species of North American eagles,” Melissa Hill, Assistant Curator for the Draper Museum Raptor Experience explains. “We can point out the differences between bald and golden eagles using live birds. These are very dissimilar species that aren’t closely related, yet they are often misidentified. Many of our visitors ask what the differences are between the two birds, and now we can actually show them using the birds themselves!”
The new, female bald eagle is the first of the Center’s raptors to remain on exhibit year-round. Should guests miss one of the scheduled raptor programs, they still have the opportunity to see a raptor “up close and personal,” Hill adds. “She allows us continue our quality educational programming without having to increase the burden on the birds that have been with us since summer 2011. Several of our birds average more than 350 educational program appearances annually!”
While the raptors are wild animals and not pets, Draper staff discovered that naming the birds allows individuals to relate better to each species—its characteristics, its idiosyncrasies, and its behavior. So, the bald eagle needs a new name. “We’re asking the public to help us name her,” Hill continues. “Go to our website, and enter your idea. To come up with a unique name, we encourage folks to look at her history and the characteristics of bald eagles in general.”
The Draper Museum Raptor Experience is supported by the W.H. Donner Foundation and the Donner Canadian Foundation, and partners with the University of Wyoming’s Berry Center for Biodiversity Conservation. Learn more about the Draper Museum Raptor Experience at centerofthewest.org/raptors.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily for the summer. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.