Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cody's thriving raptor exhibit gives hands-on, close up view of spectacular birds of prey

Kateri, a gorgeous golden eagle, was injured while feeding on a dead deer near Gilette, Wyo. She cannot fly. She was named
by a young Cody girl.  Kateri honors the patron saint of people who love nature and preserve the environment.
Volunteer and raptor aficionado Patrick Pitet, a retired
attorney, visits the raptors and helps with the birds. Here
he is with Suli, a turkey vulture beloved by the staff., .



A BIRD IN THE HAND, as the old saw goes, is worth two in the bush.
In the case of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, there are several hectic "handsful" of gorgeous raptors.
Birds of prey at the museum include eagles, kestrels, falcons, hawks and owls.
You can get up close and personal with a half-dozen of these beautiful creatures, named raptors because they kill and eat other animals for sustenance.
Eagles, hawks, falcons, kestrels and owls fit this category, and the Center has built a small, classy raptor house to hold them. None of the birds could be successfully returned to the wild.
MOST ARE victims of accident, but one -- the turkey vulture -- is a victim of human imprinting.
Suli hatched in a haystack in Kansas in 2011 where ranchers discovered her and thought her an orphan.  They took her to a nature center where she grew up with people not other vultures.  Thus Suli failed to learn bird behavior or survival in the wild.
Teasdale, a great-horned owl, came to the Center with a broken wing.
Her name derives from the Utah town near which a hiker found her.
Known as an important member of "nature's clean-up crew," the vulture is respected for its disposal of waste and rotting meat.  Its unique digestive system is impervious to bacteria and most disease.
THIS FACT and others are imparted during a lively half-hour show twice daily at the Buffalo Bill.  It's a wonderful outdoor option when visiting the five spectacular indoor museums in this world-class facility.
The Draper Museum's"Raptor Experience" shares these spectacular wild birds with visitors while staff commentary encourages conservation, bird watching and feeding and proper protocol for handling injured birds.
Frozen quail, mice and other raptor
delicacies are kept in the storeroom.
A red-tailed hawk, Isham, arrived at the raptor program from New Mexico.  He
was likely hit by a car when only a few years old. His eyes were damaged.
Visitors to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West often spend two days
visiting the five world-class museums.  More on that next time.
OUR CODY FRIENDS, Patrick and Lynn Pitet, are museum devotees -- she as staff and he as a volunteer. When they invited us to the outreach program, we "flew" at the opportunity and went behind the scenes in the raptor house, then watched the well done show. Here's the schedule, next time you're at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (it's included in the admission):
11:30 a.m. "Raptors: Superheroes of Nature,"  Braun Garden, at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. “Relaxing with Raptors” can be enjoyed, too, at announced times. The raptors do school visits in winter, traveling to Red Lodge and other nearby Montana and Wyoming towns. Email Melissa Hill or call 307 578-4111 for information.

COMING UP: whereiscookie spends the day at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, known worldwide. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out weekends and Wednesdays.


  1. Rocky Mountain RoadiesJune 20, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    Saw the splendid raptor show last weekend, while touring with friends from Germany. We enjoyed seeing how "enraptured" ("enraptored"?) the young people were as the birds were displayed on the arms of the trainers.....this is where conservation begins, with the little ones.
    Great story and pretty pictures.

  2. We have two hawks who frequent our bird feeders. I love them both -- and figure that nature is "figuring out" the balance.....plenty of bird seed for all. Just hope the hawks aren't eating the finches, but.... this piece. Quite wonderful.

  3. I am so glad you enjoyed our raptor show, and that Patrick showed off our mews. Your photo of Patrick clearly shows how much he adores our Suli. Thanks so much for giving us such a nice write up.

  4. Wonderful, wonderful. We did not know about this but next time we head north from Taos, N.M., we will take a ride with the raptors. Great road trip tip!