Meet a few of our feathered friends at High Desert Museum and Sunriver Nature Center

Many cultures around the world revere raptors as symbols of strength, wisdom and nobility. At the High Desert Museum and Sunriver Nature Center, visitors can meet some of raptors that call this region home.


photo courtesy of sunriver nature center

High Desert Museum

With a mission to create learning experiences to help audiences discover their connection to the past, their role in the present, and their responsibility to the future, the Museum has several species of owls and eagles on exhibit. These birds sustained permanent injuries that would limit their survival in the wild.

Alysia Wolf, assistant curator of wildlife, provided background stories on some of the resident raptors on exhibit.

Kokanee and Charisma, male and female bald eagles, suffered blunt force injuries from an unknown source which resulted in partial wing amputations. Their whistled calls can be heard throughout the Museum grounds.

Rescued as a nestling, Luna a male great horned owl became imprinted on humans. Imprinting is where wildlife develop a pattern of recognition and attraction to another animal, in this case humans. Because of his tendency to return to people, Luna could not be released back into the wild.

George, the barn owl, was born in captivity and became imprinted on humans. He spends much of his day perched on a roost, but at night becomes more active. His screeching calls are a sharp contrast to Luna’s deep hoots.

In addition to the birds on exhibit, the Museum has several other raptors that are trained in falconry and participate in daily Bird of Prey Encounters (11:00 am and 2:00 pm) where visitors get eye-to-eye with a bird of prey. Or they can watch birds of prey literally fly right overhead during the summertime Raptors of the Desert Sky flight program. One of these flight birds is a colorful aplomado falcon that spent its “working life” chasing starlings and blackbirds out of vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Now “retired,” this falcon and the other birds are ambassadors of education connecting people to these magnificent birds of prey.

The Museum does not take in injured or abandoned birds due to health concerns for the resident wildlife, but does provide a list of certified wildlife rehabilitators in the region. All of the animals at the Museum are well cared for and may be “adopted” – as an adoptive animal parent you support the work of the wildlife staff and volunteers, caring for animals that could not survive in the wild.

Sunriver Nature Center

Inspiring present and future generations to cherish and understand our natural world is the raison d’etre for Sunriver Nature Center. With year-round offerings onsite, the Sunriver Nature Center also offer seasonal programs, now underway in the Old Mill District. We are fortunate to have their weekly visits every Monday from 12 – 2p throughout September.

The Sunriver Nature Center and special guests visit the Old Mill District on Mondays in September noon -2pm.

The Sunriver Nature Center and special guests visit the Old Mill District on Mondays in September noon -2pm.

The Sunriver Nature Center is non-profit science education facility with a long history in the world of environmental education programming and wildlife rehabilitation. Over the years they have helped to rescue, rehabilitate and reunite thousands of animals with their natural habitats in the greater Central Oregon region.

Throughout this time they have provided refuge and or services to almost any Oregon animal that you can think of ranging all the way from porcupines and squirrels, to woodpeckers and to the symbolic bald eagle.

At their raptor rehabilitation facility, the primary goal is to get injured birds back out into the wild where they belong. However, in many cases, some of the animals have injuries that are too severe to release. For this reason, many birds have the opportunity to become “ambassadors of the wild”, creating opportunities to educate the public about these beautiful creatures. It’s one of these ambassadors that makes weekly visits to the Old Mill District.

We asked Kody Osborne, Lead Naturalist at the Sunriver Nature Center, to provide an introduction to a few of their majestic ambassadors of the wild.

Dubbed “Aquila” after her Latin genus, meaning “golden”, our 30-year plus old Golden Eagle was struck by a car during the first year of her life. As a result of the impact she is almost completely blind. She is taken care of daily by our skilled staff and enjoys frequent outings in the Nature Center botanical garden.

There are also a pair of great horned owls that live as “roomies”, both with similar depth perception issues, but with a huge gap in age. One owl, age 30 years +, was struck by car when he was a young bird. The other owl, age 3, lost the use of one eye from unknown causes. They are inquisitive, but mostly sleepy during the daytime hours. At night you can hear them hooting at each other and at other great horned owls who live nearby.

Our resident Red Tailed Hawk was transferred to the Nature Center with a severely broken wing, which had fused at the radius and the humerus near the elbow. Because these birds rely heavily on high altitude soaring for hunting, this bird, being unable to do so, now lives a healthy life at the Nature Center—with free meals and daily misting in the summer months.

We are grateful to the High Desert Museum and Sunriver Nature Center for their long tradition of raptor rehabilitation and rescue in Central Oregon. Please join us in recognizing both programs as being invaluable resources to better understanding of our interconnectedness. We highly recommend making time to visit their hands-on exhibits and year-round offerings.

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