An educational experience, teaching awareness and respect for wildlife using live, native birds of prey

Meet the Raptors

Birds of prey have stirred human emotions since time immemorial with their fierce beauty, great strength, and superlative skill as hunters. These animals have a commanding presence that stays with an audience long after the initial presentation. An opportunity to experience a kinship with them brings us closer to understanding our interdependence in earth's web of life.

Raptors are the ultimate birds of prey: predators that sit at the top of the food chain. They are indicators of the health of an environment, and are essential to a balanced ecosystem, controlling rodents and eliminating the sick and weak from prey populations. Raptors are unique because of their special survival tools. They all possess three characteristics that set them apart from other birds: Talons - strong feet and sharp, curved nails uniquely designed to kill, grip, and carry heavy prey; Hooked Beak - strong beak to kill and tear prey; Vision - sharp eyesight to allow diurnal (daytime) raptors to locate prey.

Our presentations feature birds and their individual stories:

  • A Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
  • A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • A Common Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
  • A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) to be added
  • An American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) to be added

The following species are common, local residents of the Pacific Northwest. Each individual species holds its own niche that represents important environmental concerns.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)


Photo by Michael L. Kern of

The heaviest and most common of our local owl species dominates the night skies. This non-releasable Great Horned Owl was an orphan who suffers from a detached retina after falling from his nest during a bad wind storm. He came to us in March 2003 and has a lot of attitude. Here he is demonstrating his wing span.

View Memorial Slideshow

Download Great Horned Owl Handout

Sponsor this Owl!



Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Photo (c) Karen Hoyt


This large, robust hawk is a very common broad-winged, soaring hawk in our local area. Dark headed and highly variable in both juvenal and adult plumages, it can be identified as an adult by its short, red tail. Easily seen in open fields and perching on telephone poles, it is able to adapt to most any habitat. This Red-tailed Hawk was hit by a car as a young bird and suffered an injury to the shoulder joint giving her limited flight, she is not able to sustain strong enough flight to live in the wild. She comes to Sky Hunters from Marin County where she was the much beloved mascot of a local elementary school.

Download Red-tailed Hawk Handout

Sponsor this Red-tailed Hawk!

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Photo by Karen Hoyt


Peregrine Falcon (falco peregrinus)

Photo by Karen Hoyt

A medium-sized owl, with a heart-shaped face and dark brown eyes, has been called the "monkey-faced owl." It is a cavity nester and readily takes up year-round residence in old buildings, tree cavities, barns, and nest boxes. It has adapted well to life near people, and is considered a true friend of the farmer as it helps control rodent populations. Our educational barn owl's suffered a broken hip from a 20' drop from a palm tree as a nestling, a common occurrence for this species as prefered nest sites such as tree cavities are harder to find.

Download Barn owl handout

Barn Owl Nest Box Plans

Sponsor this Barn Owl!



Sky Hunters Peregrine Falcon passed away on January 12, 2012 at the ripe old age of 22 years of age. He is greatly missed.

Sky Hunters is looking for a new peregrine falcon for programs.

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Photo (c) Cait Hutnik - Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society Education Day

Sky Hunters is looking for a new kestrel to join our program.

The smallest North American falcon is one of our most common and colorful raptors. Formerly called the "Sparrow Hawk", it is about the size of a robin. Kestrels are cavity nesters and are found in open areas, along highways, and near farms. They have a "perch and pounce" hunting style, and also hover over a foraging site before diving to take prey. As kestrel plumage differs by sex,you can easily tell the boys from the girls.

Download Kestrel Handout

Kestrel Nest Box Plans

Sponsor this American Kestrel!

©2004-2012 Sky Hunters Environmental Education. All rights reserved.