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Wildlife Conservation & Education.
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Meet Our Raptors
photo above by Marilyn Stevens…header
What is a Raptor?
Eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, kites, osprey and harriers are all raptors! Their beaks are hooked, rather than straight, and they seize and kill their quarry using powerful feet and sharp talons. In the annals of human history, raptors have always been an integral part of mankind’s material and spiritual world. Over 4,000 years ago raptors began to be used in some cultures to help put food on the table via the art and science of falconry. Spiritually, they symbolize the highest aspirations of purpose, power, clarity, and focus. Eagles, for instance, are mentioned in virtually all of the great religious texts, and they are central to the spiritual beliefs of virtually all of America’s native peoples. Today, scientists use raptors as barometers of environmental health. Drastic declines in the populations of Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons, for example, pointed to the larger problems posed by habitat disturbance and destruction, environmental toxins, and shootings to name a few. The Raptor Education Foundation (REF) uses these magnificent birds as ambassadors for the vast “silent majority” of living creatures: the diversity of plants and animals that creates and supports human life. The raptors in the Foundation’s care are permanently impaired, unable to survive any longer in the wild. Instead, they have found a new home and a new role as educators, and nature’s ambassadors. In a technological age they connect us back to the elemental forces of nature. In a digitally scattered and clouded culture, they focus our vision. In a world trapped by a myriad of abstractions, raptors help connect us back to the primary organic realm. REF is not a rehabilitation facility. REF takes over when rehab fails and provides these magnificent birds a meaningful sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives. Eagles in captivity, by the way, can easily live 50-60 years.
Bringing knowledge for preservation of ecological diversity by promoting environmental literacy.
The only wildlife theater company in America promoting science to cure Nature-Deficit Disorder
The Raptor Education Foundation (REF) has been promoting environmental literacy since 1980 by providing schools, corporations, conventions, and gatherings of all sizes unique innovative programs and seminars that connect people with the natural world. REF utilizes an extensive cast of live, non-releasable raptors to focus attention on environmental concepts and issues. Other environmental Consulting Services are also available. These consulting services benefit from REF’s extensive natural history experience and network of associations at an international level. REF has field experience in Africa, the Caribbean, Micronesia, Fiji, Mexico, Central and South America, Australia, Indonesia, and Russia.
In 1999, working with Colorado legislators, Colorado Governor Bill Owens and numerous county officials, REF designed and issued Colorado’s first–ever motor vehicle license plates featuring an environmental/wildlife theme and benefiting REF’s environmental literacy mission. The Colorado Respects Wildlife license plates are available only to qualified REF members. The beautiful graphics featuring America’s national symbol, promote REF’s mission on the streets and highways of Colorado as part of REF’s ongoing Driving For Wildlife campaign. Thousands of vehicles display these exclusive license plates. Shouldn’t you be driving for wildlife and spreading respect?
In 2002, REF published a revised and expanded edition of its popular coloring book: Raptors, the Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, and Owls of North America. Reviews from raptor scientists, librarians, and parents confirmed another significant achievement featuring 51 raptors in beautiful color illustrations and line drawings by renown wildlife artist, Donald Malick. Precise and informative vignettes of each species written by Anne Price, REF’s Curator of Raptors, completes the book’s mission. This book is in its 9th printing. Fidget’s Freedom, REF’s second book aimed at the beginning reader, written by Stacey Patterson, and illustrated by Russia’s premier wildlife artist, Vadim Gorbatov is now available in our store. The story illustrates “hacking” a peregrine falcon into the wild, which is the process utilized by scientists world-wide to bring back endangered raptors from the edge of extinction. Fidget’s Folly, the second book in the series continues the story of peregrine recovery. All of REF’s books focus on generating interest in science at a young age, which is what REF’s live raptor programs have been doing longer than any raptor organization in America.
In 2012 The National Geographic Society contracted REF to provide special programming for their signature BioBlitz event held in Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2013, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), contracted REF to provide its exclusive Advanced Raptor ID Seminar to all CPW raptor monitors and staff. In 2013, when industry leader, Harmonic, wanted to assemble a large variety of raptors to demonstrate their capacity to deliver 4-K (Ultra-HD) images they contracted REF to deliver a team of birds and trainers in a short period of time.
Pictured above, Anne Price, REF’s Curator with America’s National Symbol in the Parade of Nations, and (left) with Dr. Alexander Sorokin, Head of Russia’s raptor research programs at the 3rd International Falconry Festival in Abu Dahbi.
In December, 2014, the 3rd International Falconry Festival, held in Abu Dahbi, recognized REF by sponsoring REF’s Curator, Anne Price, to attend this international gathering representing almost 80 different countries. REF was the only raptor education organization in the United States to be sponsored, and Anne presented REF’s work in the education pavilion. In February, 2015, REF’s staff once again provided their signature raptor experience for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held at the Birds of Prey ski course in Beaver Creek, Colorado. This represents over 2 decades of REF’s participation at this international event.
The Foundation operates as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) educational organization with special permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife. Collaborating with the Colorado Hawking Club, REF established the first-ever educational clinics for new wildlife field agents at the Colorado Division of Wildlife. These clinics included raptor identification, husbandry techniques, and maintenance for individuals practicing falconry in Colorado and regulated by CDOW. REF has received numerous awards and commendations for its programs. In 2005, Anne Price, REF’s curator of raptors received international acclaim by being featured in the world’s oldest continually published sportsmen’s magazine, Ohota I Ribalka – Russian (Hunting & Fishing). In the November, 2007 issue Anne received her own byline with an article about Eagle Falconry in the U.S. In July of 2008, REF moved its operations into new and expanded quarters in Brighton, Colorado as it implements its plans to develop Eagle World International with partners THF Realty, and the City of Brighton.
A small staff, along with highly-trained and dedicated docents, provide programs and services across the United States and abroad. Members are found world wide. Sponsors and partners include THF Realty, The City of Brighton, The Wal-Mart Foundation, Panwy Foundation, Wolf Creek Charitable Foundation, Frontier Airlines, Vail Valley Foundation, Vail Valley Recreation District, Winter Park Resorts, Gary Williams Energy Corp, Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, and the California Academy of Sciences, to name a few. Since its inception, REF has been self-supporting, without relying on state or federal dollars. Hundreds of schools utilize REF programs in Colorado alone, and over one million students have participated in REF’s unique programs. Millions of people have experienced REF’s public seminars nationwide. If you have seen raptors, you have seen REF. Read some of our reviews, and other kudos. REF started its exclusive raptor based programs in 1980, and despite numerous imitators, it still sets the standards for the very best environmental programs featuring live raptors. Plan a visit with us. We are the original and the best with 36 years of experience in promoting environmental literacy.