Falcons, hawks, owls and eagles housed in the Raptor Interpretive Program at the Columbia Gorge Discovery will soon have a daytime view of the river — and visitors will have an outdoor view of the birds — with the completion of a new display area at the center Wednesday morning.
Lacking only perches, the small outdoor exhibit, located next to the museum and Riverfront Trail, consists of a roofed building with three screened windows looking toward the river. Each window opens into a single flight cage, for use by a single bird at one time.
“Visitors will be able to view the birds more often, throughout the day,” said Bambi Foy, raptor education co-ordinator at the center. “It will enhance our visitor experience.”
Once perches have been completed, the seven raptors living at the museum will be rotated through the display. When the museum closes, the birds will be removed. “They will go into a secure area to stay during the evening and night hours,” she said.
Located outdoors, the display is not subject to an entrance fee. “We have a lot of people who just come to walk the grounds,” Foy added.
Foy thanked Bryan Kent and his crew, who did most of the construction, Northern Wasco Co. PUD, John Langfelt, and John and Valerie Glowinski, who did the design work, Sandi Olson, who did fund-raising, and the individual donors who made it all possible.
“I also want to acknowledge our dedicated raptor volunteers for their tireless efforts,” Foy said. She also thanked Carolyn Purcell, executive director of the center, who said, “The raptors are an important component of our education program and ongoing mission to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the Columbia River Gorge. We are thrilled to give visitors the opportunity to view some of our raptors throughout the day.”
The new exhibit has been a year in the planning and a summer in the making.
Those who visit the center can also get an up-close experience with a raptor, presented by museum personnel every weekend with programs in the morning and afternoon. Raptor presentations are included with paid admission.
Foy is assisted in the care of the birds by an assistant and five volunteers.
The raptor project at the museum began when, in 2007, Jean Cypher, D.V.M. of the Rowena Wildlife Clinic, asked the center if they would be interested in having a bald eagle to display.
With the assistance of the Discovery Center administrator Dr. Cypher, Chris Tolotti of Wildlife Rescue of the Gorge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Migratory Bird Division, and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department, the idea for a full-scale education and exhibit began to evolve. The museum currently houses 7 birds, and hopes to increase that number, Foy said.
The program is designed to meet several needs, according to the center’s website: It creates an avenue for educating the public about native raptors and their habitats; provides a place for non-releasable injured birds that must otherwise be euthanized; and offers the Discovery Center a program that meets its mission to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the Gorge.
The Discovery Center’s Raptor Project receives funds solely from donations, program fees, and grant support, all of which go directly to the care and maintenance of the birds, according to the center.