Birds of prey, such as eagles, falcons, hawks, owls, and vultures, have a vital role in our ecosystem. Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery is focused on the conservation of these birds through education, research, and the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors.


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About Our Work With Raptors


We see more than 600 birds of prey in need of immediate assistance every year.

These birds come to us from an area spanning every corner of Nebraska and parts of western Iowa. What’s highly important here is that at this stage we are not alone in our efforts. We depend on individuals—a dedicated network of volunteers across the entire state—to receive phone calls at all hours of the day and night and then drive countless miles, first to the injured bird and then back to our trauma care unit. We also work with other organizations across the state to facilitate the program, and we rely on concerned citizens to report the injured raptors. If you have found a bird in need of assistance, please visit this page for more information on what to do next.


Birds are evaluated immediately upon arrival to our trauma care unit.

Trained rehabilitators and veterinarians provide treatment, medication, and surgery if needed. Some patients may take a few days to mend; others might take months or even years.


A bird is considered healthy again when it is in ideal feather condition, demonstrates keen flight abilities, and can recognize and catch food.

It is then banded and released back to the wild near where it was found.


Even after treatment and months of rehabilitation, a raptor might be unable to fly or hunt due to a variety of factors and cannot be released.

Non-releasable birds are channeled into breeding programs, recruited as “foster parents” for young orphans, utilized in research, or join our roster of educational birds for outreach and education programs. Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery reaches 20,000 people each year during our live raptor programs.

Raptor Woodland Refuge

Thirty feet above the forest floor is where we are. This canopy-level exhibit is designed according to the natural habitat of the rescued birds housed within these mews.

These are not ordinary enclosures; these are homes. These owls, hawks, falcons and other species are birds of prey that can no longer survive in the wild. But they can provide us with their experiences, so we can know more about this important part of nature. Each visit is its own unique adventure, its own story, its own memory to share.

Raptor Woodland Refuge is located at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center. Raptor Woodland Refuge is open 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center.

1. Red-tailed Hawk
2. Ferruginous Hawk
3. Great Horned Owl
4. Barn Owl
5. Swainson’s Hawk
6. Peregrine Falcon
7. Turkey Vulture
8. Ospreys
9. Rough-legged Hawk
10. American Kestrel
11. Eastern Screech-Owl
12. Barred Owl
13. Eagle Mew


Raptor Stories


Turkey Vulture
Found: 2015 Lincoln, NE
This bird arrived at a young age, emaciated and with a badly broken right wing. The resulting partial amputation on that wing would make it difficult to sustain flight over open country, woodlands, and farmlands in search of carrion, as Turkey Vultures normally do. Because these birds are often seen swooping through the air, Helios is named for the personification of the sun in Greek mythology, a titan who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day.


Ferruginous Hawk
This bird was brought to our facility on Christmas Eve with her wing badly broken in the radius ulna. After volunteers transported her over 250 miles in this condition, she was treated and the bone was pinned. Despite this, part of her wing had to be amputated and Mesa would not be able to hunt as this species normally does. As part of the Refuge, today she is a reminder of the hard work of all our dedicated volunteers who travel many miles to bring birds to our rehabilitation facility.


Peregrine Falcon
This bird hails from Omaha, where she lived on the Woodmen Tower with others known as the Woodmen Peregrines until she was found one day in 2015 down on the city streets. Charlotte appears to have a neurological dysfunction and her vision is impaired; we know this because she has difficulty navigating and finding food within her enclosure. We have attempted to release her back to her Peregrine family but have been unsuccessful. Charlotte makes her home at Raptor Woodland Refuge, where she interacts warmly with staff and visitors.


Eastern Screech-Owl
This little guy was found in an Omaha neighborhood in 2005 as a youngster. His nest tree had blown down in a storm, his parents were gone, and his two siblings had already perished. He was raised at our facility by a foster parent Screech-Owl, but as he grew older it quickly became apparent that he lacked “owl self-awareness” and showed no fear of larger owls or people. He is totally unguarded and would not survive if released in the wild—but he makes an excellent education bird.

Looking for a unique gift – for a birthday, baby shower, or graduation gift? Sponsor a raptor and your gift also provides support to the Forest! Find a sponsorship that matches someone’s love for birds, and let them know this gift supports the refuge and all of our efforts for raptors. Click Sponsor a Raptor below for more information.


Injured Raptor

If you find an injured or downed raptor, please call our toll free rescue hotline: (866) 888-7261. Select the region of Nebraska where the raptor is located. Please leave a voicemail if the call is not answered and we will respond as quickly as possible. You may also contact the nearest Nebraska Games & Parks Conservation Officer, your local Humane Society, or local law enforcement. Found an animal other than a raptor?

Learn More

Book a Raptor for an Outreach Program

Want to learn about how your school, organization, or club can invite some Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery educational birds to visit? Our trained staff and volunteer presenters are experienced in tailoring presentations to a wide variety of audiences and group sizes.

To find out more information about educational programs, please fill out the form below or call 402-731-3140.

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Volunteer with Raptor Recovery

We are always looking for assistance with our Raptor Recovery team. Whether you are interested in transporting injured birds of prey to us for help, want help clean the recovery center, or have more specialized skills, please email info@fontenelleforest.org and someone will get back to you shortly about opportunities.

Volunteer Today

Fontenelle Forest is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.

Make a tax deductible donation NOW

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