Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Luna the Great Horned Owl

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to California Raptor Center? 

California Raptor Center is located at 1340 Equine Lane, Davis, just off Old Davis Rd. If coming from UC Davis, keep straight on Old Davis Rd and go under I-80, over the train tracks, and past the horse paddocks. There is a large wayfinding sign for California Raptor Center on the right side of the road near the paddocks. Continue up the slight incline in the road. At the road sign that reads “Raptor Lane”, turn left onto the levee road immediately before the bridge. Follow the road until you come to a "Y" and take the left part of the "Y" down the incline and turn right into the Raptor Center parking lot. DO NOT go over the cattle grates. 

If traveling Interstate 80, take the UC Davis exit. If exiting from eastbound lanes, go right on Old Davis Road. You will not go under I-80. If exiting from westbound lanes, turn left at the end of the ramp and go under I-80 onto Old Davis Road. For more information on how to get to the California Raptor Center, click here

What do I do if I find an injured raptor during business hours (8 A.M. – 4 P.M. at CRC and 8 A.M. – 6 P.M. at UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital)? 

Carefully capture the bird with a blanket or towel (using heavy gloves if possible and being careful of the talons), place it in a box with a lid, and bring it to the California Raptor Center. If we are closed, you can take it to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (until 6 pm). Do not try to feed or give water to a sick or injured bird. This may do more harm than good. For more information, click here

What do I do if it’s after hours? 

If the California Raptor Center and the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are closed, please keep the bird in a quiet place in a box, and bring the bird the next day. Do not try to feed or give water to a sick or injured bird because this may do more harm than good. For more contact information about UC Davis’s facilities and other wildlife centers in the area, please click here

What do I do if I find a baby raptor on the ground? 

If the bird appears fully feathered with little to no fluffy white or gray “down” remaining on its body, and it has fully emerged, long flight feathers on its wings, then the bird is probably a fledgling learning to fly. This brief period of time spent on the ground is a normal stage of raptor development, and these fledglings may not need any human intervention and often do best when left where they are (the parent birds are usually in the area and still caring for their young). 

If the bird’s body is mostly covered with fluffy, cotton-y “down” feathers, the bird does not stand or move well on its own, and the bird does not have flight feathers, it may be a nestling that is too young to be out of the nest. Birds in this situation may need human intervention in order to survive. 

Before picking up the bird, try to assess the bird’s age and the situation. Do a visual search for the nest. Look and listen for the presence of adults nearby. Pay attention to the surroundings and note if there is immediate danger (high human traffic, unrestrained cats or dogs, severely adverse weather conditions). Look for any obvious injuries. All of these factors may influence the judgement call about whether or not the baby raptor needs help. 

Call the Rehabilitation Office at (530) 752-6091 to discuss the situation. For more information about what to do if you find a baby raptor, click here

How long has the California Raptor Center been in existence? 

The California Raptor Center was opened in 1972 under the management of the Avian Science Department, UC Davis. In 1980 the School of Veterinary Medicine took over management of the California Raptor Center. The California Raptor Center opened its collection to public visitor access in the 1990s, and today the California Raptor Center continues its mission as a unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine. 

Is California Raptor Center funded by UC Davis? 

While the School of Veterinary Medicine provides us with administrative support, we rely on public donations for the replacement of buildings and cage construction, animal food, vet care, educational materials, and all other operational funds. We need your help in order and to maintain our high standards of care for the birds. If you would like to know more about ways you can give, click here

When is the California Raptor Center open? 

The California Raptor Center is open to the public (free of charge) M – F 9am – 4pm and Sat 9am – 12pm. It is closed on Sundays and University holidays. 

Why are birds brought to California Raptor Center? 

Raptors brought to the California Raptor Center have been found by members of the public and are usually injured, ill, or too young to be out of the nest. Causes of injury may include car strikes, window strikes, gunshot wounds, being caught in barbed wire, electrocution, disease, poisoning, etc. Young raptors (hatchlings, nestlings, and fledglings) may come into contact with humans if they end up out of their nest before they can fly well. 

What is a common type of injury seen in these birds? 

Most common injuries are wing fractures, leg fractures, head trauma, eye injuries, and soft tissue damage. 

What are reasons that some birds are non-releasable? What happens to non-releasable birds? How long have some birds remained at California Raptor Center? 

Birds can be non-releasable owing to certain eye injuries, wing injuries, or improperly imprinting on humans when young. Some of these non-releasable birds are used in our education programs; others may be placed at permitted zoological and educational facilities in the area. Our longest living resident has been here since 1993. A few previous non-releasable raptor residents, including a Great Horned Owl and a Golden Eagle, lived at the CRC for over 30 years. Read more about our education ambassadors here

Does the California Raptor Center pick up injured birds? 

No, unfortunately we do not have the staff to provide this service. 

Who brings birds to the California Raptor Center? Does California Raptor Center take in all birds brought to them? 

Member of the public, other rehabilitation centers, veterinarians, state and federal agencies (U.S. Fish & Wildlife, County Sheriff, etc.), as well as the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis, bring birds to us. The California Raptor Center only accepts raptors (owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, kites, harriers, vultures). We do not have the permits, facilities, or equipment to care for any other types of bird. 

If you have found a non-raptor bird and need assistance, please see our contact page here for a list of other wildlife centers in the Greater Sacramento Area. 

How long do raptors live? 

There are records of eagles living in human care for nearly 50 years. For medium-sized hawks and owls, there are records of 30+ years in captive settings. Potential lifespan (i.e. total amount of time a bird could live under optimal conditions) tends to correlate with body size, with larger raptor species usually able to live longer than smaller raptors. In the wild, average life expectancy for all species tends to be shorter, often around half the length of time the bird could survive in captivity. 

Does the California Raptor Center breed birds? 

No, but we have a fully equipped nursery facility in which we hatch eggs and raise baby birds that are brought to us. 

Can we take pictures? 

Yes, the public may take pictures, but only in designated tour areas. 

How do I become a volunteer? 

Call the CRC’s main line at 530-752-6091, and leave a message for our Operations Manager indicating that you want to volunteer. A member of our team will call you back with more information on volunteer orientations. You must be at least 18 years of age. You can read more about volunteering at the CRC here.