Raptor Ambassadors

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Raptor Ambassadors

Cisco, American Kestrel. Photo © Juanita Bach

Naturalist Jessie and Storm, Great Horned Owl. Photo © Aaron Bono

Glug, Turkey Vulture. Photo © Juanita Bach

The Nature Center’s raptor ambassadors can be viewed in their weathering area from the south windows of the center. This area allows the raptors to be in the sun and fresh air and to observe activity inside and outside of the area; all of which is critical for their physical and mental health. For their safety, they are tethered to a roost or platform. If the temperature is below mid-thirties they may not be able to be viewed. They will be kept in their individual rooms in our mews which also serves as their feeding and overnight areas.

Wild born birds that are identified as potential ambassadors must receive an exam from a veterinarian who then determines the bird is ‘non-releasable’ but is a good candidate for placement to human care. Most birds that come in to the Nature Center for rehabilitation that are determined non-releasable, are also not candidates for placement because of things like: type of injury, age, and over all health of individual. Once the veterinary exam is complete, the US Fish & Wildlife Service will then determine if and where a bird might be placed for the remainder of life care.



American Bald Eagle

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Warsaw arrived to Lakeside Nature Center in 2005 after being found by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. The eagle was extremely thin, missing its left eye and unable to fly. He was found to have a broken right humerus that had healed improperly. This gave him only partial flight capabilities and made him unreleasable. The US Fish and Wildlife Service granted permission to the Nature Center to keep Warsaw for educational display. Based on the smaller size, Warsaw is assumed to be male. 

For more information on American bald eagles, go here.

Photo © Juanita Bach



American Kestrel

(Falco sparverius)

Cisco arrived at Lakeside Nature Center in 2015. This male American kestrel was found in Independence, Missouri and was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and a head injury. The wing’s mobility never fully recovered so he could not be released back into the wild. He acclimated to people and became a perfect candidate for the Nature Center’s education program. Cisco is identified as a male because of his slate-blue head and wings that contrast elegantly with his rusty-red back and tail.

Go here for more information on American kestrels.

Photo © Susie Harris


American Kestrel

(Falco sparverius)

Cheetoh came to Lakeside Nature Center in 2019 and is presumed to be a female based on her feather coloration that has the same warm reddish on her wings, back, and tail. . This American kestrel was found on the ground when it was very young; she would have been considered a ‘nestling’ and still in the nest while being attended to by the parents. It is always the first goal by Lakeside staff to return nestlings to the parent or substitute nest, but no nest or parents were found. Cheetoh had also been kept by the individual that found her for about a week and because she was such a young age, she became imprinted on people. The Nature Center determined it was best to keep the bird and she was placed with Cisco, the education male American kestrel.

Photo © Juanita Bach


Peregrine Falcon

(Falco peregrinus)

A member of the public found this falcon injured in a field in Gilman City, MO. Part of his right wing had been severed and, after careful examination, we determined it was necessary to amputate the affected area up to his wrist. With the high speeds attained by these amazing falcons in flight, this type of injury is not uncommon and occurs when the bird flies too close and clips an obstacle. This bird’s calm demeanor made him a perfect candidate to become Lakeside’s first educational peregrine falcon. Zorro, a member of the Tundra subspecies, is presumed a male because of his smaller size.

Go here for more information on peregrine falcons.

Photo © Susie Harris



Red-tailed Hawk

(Buteo jamaicensis)

Paco arrived at Lakeside Nature Center in 2002 after being found on the ground in the Blue Springs, Missouri, area. He was diagnosed with an old fracture to the humerus in the right wing that had healed poorly and could not be repaired. Additionally, because the hawk readily stepped onto a gloved hand, it was apparent that someone had the bird for some time prior to its being found on the ground. It is illegal for any unlicensed person to take a bird of prey out of the wild. Unfortunately, this bird will never fly well enough to survive in the wild and joined the Nature Center as an ambassador for his species. Paco is presumed a male because of his smaller size.

Go here for more information on red-tailed hawks.

Photo © Juanita Bach


Broad-wing Hawk

(Buteo platypterus)

Java arrived at Lakeside Nature Center in 2017 when Raytown Animal Control found her on the ground. It had a break in the left wing that didn’t heal properly and was left unable to fly. Because of this, its young age, and calm disposition, the Nature Center obtained permission to keep Java as an education bird. Because Java has laid eggs it is determined that she is a female.

Go here for more information on broad-wing hawks.

Photo © Juanita Bach



Great-horned Owl

(Bubo virginianus)

Storm has been Lakeside Nature Center’s ambassador for great-horned owls since 2020. This owl was brought in by a member of the public. During a storm, the tree that the nest was in came down along with 2 nestlings. Staff was able to take the healthy nestling back to the area and was placed in a basket in a neighboring tree and the parents continued its care. The other nestling (Storm) however, had a fractured left humerus. Vet staff ‘set’ the fracture which had already started to heal. Ultimately the wing healed but she also developed a cataract in the right eye which was probably attributed to trauma from the original fall. There was also concern that because she was such a young bird, imprinting may effect natural behavior and it was determined to keep her as an ambassador for her species. Based on size it is presumed that she is a female (females are larger than males).

Go here for more information on great-horned owls.

Photo © Susie Harris


Eastern Screech Owl

(Otus asio)gray color phase

Darwin has lived at Lakeside Nature Center since 2008. This gray phase Eastern screech owl was brought to the Nature Center as a ‘branching’ young owl. The feathers did not develop correctly, prohibiting it from flying. We had hopes that, with a good nutritious diet, new feathers would grow in correctly the following season and the owl would be releasable. Unfortunately, that did not occur.  This feather abnormality was confirmed through a blood test as West Nile Virus exposure via egg development. Lakeside Nature Center decided to keep it to join the education program. Because of his smaller size, Darwin is presumed a male.

Go here for more information on eastern screech owls.

Photo © Susie Harris



Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura)

Turkey vulture, Glug came to Lakeside Nature Center in 2005 when he was a chick and found in an abandoned fox den. No parents were seen in the area so he could not be reunited. When he arrived at the Nature Center, his left leg was turned outward at an angle and was unusable. Nature Center staff placed a special brace on the vulture’s injured leg and the problem was corrected. However, after visiting the Veterinarian about abnormal wing development, x-rays showed that its humerus bones were curved, due to a genetic disorder and can’t fly. At that time Glug joined the Nature Center education program as an ambassador. It is presumed that Glug is a male based on his size.

Photo © Juanita Bach


Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura)

Sam, turkey vulture, arrived at Lakeside Nature Center in the fall of 2011 after he was discovered on the ground by a local runner at Jerry Smith Park. A examination by Nature Center staff revealed that the large humerus bone of the right wing had previously fractured and healed incorrectly. Since Sam was very young and could no longer fly well enough to migrate, it was decided to house him as an educational bird, along with our other turkey vulture. Vultures are very social birds and enjoy the company of their own kind in the wild.

Go here for more information on turkey vultures.

Photo © Juanita Bach



American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos)

While not a raptor, AJ is a bird ambassador. This American crow was brought to the hospital by a member of the public in 2018. It was a fledgling that appeared to have a right foot injury. Upon examination staff found that the tibiotarsus (leg bone) was fractured. Staff was able to provide splint care to help the bone heal. Because A.J. was a young bird, it became imprinted on people. It was decided at that time to keep A.J. as a Lakeside Animal Ambassador.

Go here for more information on American crows.

Photo © Juanita Bach

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