July – August 2017 Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery Center volunteer (Elmwood, Nebraska)l

I had a wonderful time volunteering with the Wednesday morning group for the Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery Center. This center is managed under the expert care of Betsy Finch. It was a great group of individuals organized by Denise Lewis. If you are in Omaha, do not miss visiting Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE. Hiking the trails is such great fun. There is so much wildlife you will encounter – keep your eyes open for many different birds, raccoons, deer, turkey, butterflies, etc. The forest is lush with plants – trees, flowers, I saw many medicinal plants, etc. It is a challenge to identify them all. The new jewel at the forest is the Raptor display area. This area houses raptors that are unable to be released back into the wild for various reasons – their injuries may prevent this, they may be too acclimated to people, etc. They now serve an educational role.

Four young screech owls were banded and released by the Raptor Recovery Center. They were found as babies fallen/blown from their nests (all in different locations). They did really well eating at the recovery center and now were big enough to release back into their natural habitats. They were sooooo…. cute – they looked like little stuffed toys. And they sure could make a lot of noise.

A Golden Eagle’s injured foot was treated. Two Red-tailed hawks were banded and released. When we got back to Fontenelle Forest we got to feed the raptors there. So I got to help feed a Merlin, Kestrel, Harris’s hawk, Peregrine falcons, Great Horned owls, Rough legged hawk, Swainson’s hawk, Broad winged hawk, turkey vulture, Red tailed hawk, Eastern screech owl and Barred owls. It was wonderful seeing these beautiful raptors up close and personal. That is after we gutted rats and quail, and weighed out the appropriate amount of food for each bird. Some of the educational birds were very bold coming to get their food off their stumps; others were more shy.

Golden eagle. Feathers all the way down their legs unlike the bald eagle who does not have this much feathering. Her name is Lady and you can see the bandage on her left foot.

Lady’s injured foot is starting to heal nicely.

Look at the size of Lady’s talons. That is why protective gloves are worn by the staff.

Lady has been having her foot treated for awhile. Actually she is a good patient and seems relaxed, though ever watchful.

Lady’s newly bandaged foot.

Look at how big Lady is. There is a male golden eagle at the Recovery center who is much smaller.

Betsy is banding a Red tailed hawk we were able to release today.

One of the two red tailed hawks we got to release today.

Two red tailed hawks we released today by one of the many lakes in the area.

As a reward after our hard work, we would stop in Elmwood and pick up a scrumptious cinnamon roll. Here are a couple of pictures of some of the volunteers enjoying their rolls. These pictures were taken after I started traveling – they were trying to make me jealous, LOL. Miss these wonderful people and sharing laughs with them.

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