Cascades Raptor Center

What is a Raptor?

Raptors are birds of prey such as...

eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, osprey, and kites...

...hunting birds with keen eyesight and hearing, strong feet with sharp talons for grasping and killing prey, and curved beaks for ripping up their food. Raptors are not the only predators of the bird world, but they are the only birds that hunt with their feet!

Resident Birds

Current Residents and other Raptors of the Northwest - Click below to see photos, descriptions and personal and natural history of raptors of the Pacific Northwest, many of whom are current residents at CRC (Brown links).

Resident CorvidsCorvids

American Crow
Black-billed Magpie

Resident EaglesEagles

Bald Eagle
Golden Eagle

Resident FalconsFalcons

American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Prairie Falcon

Resident KitesKites

White-Tailed Kites

Resident HawksHawks

Cooper's Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Swainson's Hawk

Resident Non-Native BirdsNon-Natives

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Saker Falcon

Resident OspreyOsprey


Resident OwlsOwls

Barn Owl
Barred Owl
Burrowing Owl
Great Gray Owl
Great Horned Owl
Long-eared Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Spotted Owl
Short-eared Owl
Snowy Owl
Western Screech Owl

Resident VulturesVulture

Turkey Vulture

History - For thousands of years, humans have looked on raptors variously as partners in hunting (the sport of falconry) or as villains ('varmints') poaching our chosen prey species. We now have the wisdom to view raptors as indicator species for the health of our shared world, as well as models of grace and beauty, speed, fierceness, fidelity, and parenting. We study their hearing and eyesight, and try to unravel the mystery of migration, from where they go, to why, and how they find their way.

Handling - Raptors' formidable defenses make them a challenge to handle. Their specialized dietary requirements do not permit adequate substitutes for a whole prey diet, which can be difficult and expensive to obtain, or space- and time-consuming to raise. For any bird that makes its living on the wing, perfect muscle and feather condition is critical. Caging must promote this through size and materials. For raptors, whose powerful distance vision can fail to see wire as a barrier, vertical barring has been found to be the best solution. This vertical barring also helps prevent the facial, foot or feather problems associated with attempts to cling to, climb or go through wire. Special perches, good drainage and ventilation, a natural dirt and plant flooring or a deep layer of pea gravel are also important to prevent the foot and disease problems which are common to raptors in captivity. Privacy is essential for minimizing stress and preventing excessive socialization to people. Large cages are critical (and required by federal permit conditions) for pre-release conditioning of these consummate athletes or they will not survive post-release.

References for the Descriptions on the Raptor Pages

Angell, Tony. 1978. Ravens, Crows, Magpies and Jays. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

Clark, William S., and Brian K. Wheeler. 1987. Hawks of North America. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY.

Dunn, Jon L., et al. 1999. Field Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

Dunne, Pete, David Sibley and Clay Sutton. 1988. Hawks in Flight. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY.

Ehrlich, Paul R., David S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. NY.

Johnsgard, Paul A. 1990. Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of North America: Biology and Natural History. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Johnsgard, Paul A. 1988. North American Owls: Biology and Natural History. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Miller, Millie, and Cyndi Nelson. 1989. Talons: North American Birds of Prey. Johnson Books, Boulder, CO.

Palmer, Ralph S., ed. 1988. Handbook of North American Birds. Volume 4, Diurnal Raptors (Part 1). Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Palmer, Ralph S., ed. 1988. Handbook of North American Birds. Volume 5, Diurnal Raptors (Part 2). Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Peterson, Roger Tory. 1990. A Field Guide to Western Birds. 3rd edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.

Poole, Alan, and F. Gill, eds. The Birds of North America, Nos. 1, 42, 44, 52, 61, 62, 107, 133, 172, 179, 210, 265, 298, 339, 346, 372, 476, 482, 494, 506, 508, 660, 683. Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co., Philadelphia, PA.

Sibley, David Allen. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Terres, John K. 1980. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Wilmore, Sylvia Bruce. 1977. Crows, Jays, Ravens and Their Relatives. David and Charles, London.

  ANCA Member

Cascades Raptor Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Federal ID No. 93-1038827) dedicated to wildlife rescue and public education to enhance appreciation, respect, and stewardship of the natural world.


CRC logo art by Jeanne Hammond-Elliott.  Drawings by Barbara Gleason & Karl Edwards.  Photographic sources noted as provided.