The Southeastern Raptor Center is located at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama. The Raptor Training Facility includes 24 state-of-the-art mews, or birdhouses, along with 6 training aviaries for the exercise and flight training of releasable birds. Since its inception in the mid 1970’s, the Raptor Center has rehabilitated and released thousands of birds of prey.
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Approximately 400 birds arrive at the center each year from Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. Injured birds are brought in by individuals as well as state and federal agencies through a network of southeastern rehabilitation groups. The majority of birds arriving for treatment are Red Tailed Hawks, followed by Owls. Eagles make up just 2 percent of the Center’s intake. Raptors that are unable to be released back into the wild live at the facility and participate in educational and training activities. The Center is home to the 350-seat Edgar B. Carter Educational Amphitheater, which serves as a venue for fall season raptor shows and other educational programs. Although Aubie the Tiger is the official mascot of Auburn University, the school uses the battle cry “War Eagle” and the fight song is similarly titled. The University has kept a live Golden Eagle on campus since 1930. Beginning in 2001, the Golden Eagle has flown un-tethered over the football field prior to the start of football games. On each Friday before home games, a Football, Fans and Feathers show takes place at the Raptor Center’s amphitheater. Shows last one hour and include eagles, hawks, falcons and other birds of prey who are non-releasable permanent residents of the Center. Jess and lure sets are specifically designed for each football game. Jesses are the cuffs that the eagle wears around its ankles to assist the handler in holding him, and the lure is used as a target to assist the eagle with landing on the field. Jess and lure sets are auctioned off after each game to raise money for the Center, and to-date the auctions have contributed over $20,000 to the rehabilitation of wild birds. Currently, the Raptor Center trains two eagles for the University, Spirit, a Bald Eagle and Nova, a Golden Eagle who is War Eagle VII.
History: The 126 year old College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University was the first in the southeastern United States. The Southeastern Raptor Center was founded in the mid 1970’s by Dr. Jimmy Milton at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who had brought six injured raptors to the Veterinary College. Together with the Dean of the College, Jimmy Greene, and Radiologist Dr. Greg Boring, Dr. Milton began the Raptor Center as a regional hub that would accept injured birds of prey. A small raptor barn was built, and later a hospital was added to this area. It wasn’t until 1998 that the unit had a dedicated facility. The Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett Raptor Center Hospital was made possible by a sizable donation from the son of its namesake. Bartlett’s son, Dr. Woody Bartlett, was a 1964 graduate of the Veterinary College. In 2002 facilities were once again expanded and the Carol Clark Laster/W.E. Clark Jr. Raptor Training Facility was opened thanks to a donation from Carol Clark, whose husband, Dr. Russell Laster, was a 1951 graduate of the Veterinary College. The renaming of the Raptor Center in 2004 dropped the word “rehabilitation,” thus reflecting the Center’s mission which equally values rehabilitation, education and research. Educational efforts are valuable for both students of the Veterinary College who receive hands-on experiences with birds of prey, and for the public. The educational amphitheater opened in 2005 for the purpose of sharing the Center’s work. Since, updates have included adding a paved road to the amphitheater and the addition of a Welcome Center that offers facilities to guests who attend amphitheater events.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The educational arm of the Raptor Center has educated children, churches and other groups throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, and provides over 350 educational programs both on and off-site annually. The Alabama Power Education Initiative is a one-hour outdoor tour that introduces groups of 25 or fewer to the permanent residents at the Raptor Center. Presentations can be tailored to the special interests of the group. The facility is not open to the public outside these tours, and groups must apply and schedule in advance. Case updates and admissions status on birds at the Center can be seen on the website. Information online goes back to 2014.
1350 Raptor Road Auburn, AL 36849, Phone: 334-844-6943