NCEEC is the home of several raptors (birds of prey). All of the birds that reside at NCEEC came to us after it was determined that they could not survive in the wild on their own. Many received care from a veterinarian or a wildlife rehabilitator before moving to our center. Each bird has some form of permanent injury that makes the bird unable to be re-released into wild. We feed them laboratory control mice from a scientific research company, and the bald eagle periodically gets fish. Yearly, each bird visits the vet for a checkup to be sure that they remain healthy.
So, what is a raptor (bird of prey)? Raptors are birds that hunt and feed on other animals. To do this, they have special adaptations that allow them to consume their prey. They have a very sharp hooked beak which is used for ripping and tearing their prey into bite size pieces, sharp talons (toenails) to hold their prey and excellent vision that allows them to see their prey during flight.
Eastern Screech Owl (gray morph) Megascops asio
Description: 7-10 inch long with an 18-21 inch wingspan. Comes in 2 color morphs: rufous (red) and gray. Feather tufts on head and yellow eyes.
Habitat: Open wooded areas and orchards. Cavity nester and will use a nest box
Diet: Mice and other small mammals, insects (moths, crickets, katydids), frogs, toads, crayfish, and birds up to the size of a Blue Jay.
Voice: Sounds like the whinny of a horse followed by a series of trill notes with a tremolo. Listen to Eastern Screech Owl Call.
Age: Already an adult (at least one year old) when she came to us in October 2017.
Injury: This bird was raised in captivity. It never had the chance to learn to survive in the wild from its parents.
Barred Owl Strix varia
Habitat: River bottom habitat and swamp, wooded areas near streams, ponds, lakes and wetlands. Cavity nester.
Diet: Mice, rats and other small mammals up to the size of a squirrel, birds up to size of a crow, crayfish, frogs, toads and snakes.
Voice: Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all? When first wakes up for night it makes a loud “whoa” sound. Two or more barred owls calling together may sound like monkeys howling. Listen to Barred Owl Call.
Age: Hatched in spring of 2019
Injury: Found in Savage River State Forest in Garrett County with damage to his head. Vet had to remove right eye.
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Description: 28-40 inches long, wingspan of 6–7 feet and has a dark brown body, white head and tail.
Habitat: Lakes, rivers, wetlands, seacoasts. Nests in the forks of large trees.
Diet: Fish, waterfowl and large birds, mammals. They are scavengers, and they are frequently seen eating roadkill and stealing fish from Ospreys.
Voice: Harsh squeaky sound. Listen to Bald Eagle Call.
Age: Hatched in the spring of 2011. Came to us in February 2012.
Injury: Found drinking from a backyard pool in Wisconsin. It was severely underweight and completely blind in its left eye.
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
It has a white chest and spotted band across its belly, with a rusty red tail with a black terminal band.
Habitat: Open fields, meadows, highway shoulders, medians right of ways, open scrubby and shrubby areas and forest edge or open forest.
Diet: Mice, rats, voles, squirrels, other small mammals, birds up to size of crow and snakes.
Voice: keeeeer (descending downward). Listen to Red-tailed Hawk Call.
Age: At least 4 years old in 2010.
Injury: Broken wing from flying into tractor equipment buried in tall grass. Vet treated her injury which healed, but she can not fly directly to heights and tree tops like prior to the injury.
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Description: 13-16 inches long with a 3-4 foot wingspan. slender owl with rounded head and white heart shaped face (facial disc), white to tan chest with black dots. Light brown back with black and white spotting. Females are darker and have more spotting on the chest.
Habitat: Likes open habitats like fields, meadows, marshs, and agricultural lands. Nests in a hollow cavity and will use abandoned buildings like silos and barns as well as caves.
Diet: Mice, voles, shrews, rats, young rabbits other small mammals and birds.
Voice: High pitched scream, raspy hissing, high pitched metallic clicking or cluck-like sound. Listen to Barn Owl Call.
Age: Hatched in 2009 or earlier. Came to us in 2016.
Injury: Found with a broken left wing in Baltimore County. She is unable to fly because part of her wing had to be removed.
Barred Owl Strix varia – Retired from public programs due to age
Age: Already an adult (at least one year old) when she came to us in 1995.
Injury: Hit by a car. Her left wing was removed up at the shoulder. She cannot fly.
In Memoriam – Tayac 1979 – 2017
Tayac lived a long life, and he will be missed by everyone who had the opportunity to meet him.
Tayac was the only raptor who lived at NCEEC with a “real” name. He was given his name by NCEEC founder Cal Posey, in honor of his lifelong friend, Piscataway Indian Chief Turkey Tayac.
Age: Banded as a nestling in 1979 at approximately 2 months of age. Passed away on January 13, 2017.
Injury: Gunshot injury. Shot in 1988. Half of his right wing was removed.