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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Meadowside Nature Center – Raptor Deck

Welcome to the Raptor Deck

Meadowside Nature Center (MNC) is home to permanently injured, non-releasable birds of prey, also known as raptors. Located behind the nature center, our accessible Raptor Deck allows you to view the magnificent birds. Stop by to visit* when the nature center is open, during our normal business hours.

*The Raptor Deck is open on select Wednesdays and Saturdays. Please register for a free raptor chat at Active Montgomery.

About Birds of Prey

Birds of prey are predators at the top of their food chain and have been admired by humans for years. They can be broken into several groups like diurnal (active during the day) birds and nocturnal (active at night) birds. Some common families or groups of raptors are hawks, falcons, owls, and eagles.

All raptors have three defining features:

  1. Keen eyesight – Diurnal raptors have full color vision. Nocturnal raptors such as owls have an added advantage of night vision.
  2. Sharp talons – Birds of prey have powerful leg and toe muscles that end with sharp talons. Their feet are perfectly designed to catch, hold, and carry prey. Most birds of prey have three toes pointing forward and one pointing backward that creates a powerful grip.
  3. Hooked beak – The raptors’ beak sets them apart from other birds. All raptors have the same beak design: curved at the tip with sharp cutting edges to rip and tear apart their prey (Source: Bureau of Land Management).

The raptors once lived in the wild, and each raptor received injuries that needed medical attention. After their injuries healed, they were considered non-releasable and have since found their way to a new home at Meadowside Nature Center. Now, some of the birds are on exhibit, in homes called mews, and are ambassadors of their species as well as trained for their own welfare.

Read about each bird and its journey to Meadowside Nature Center below.

Meet The Resident Raptors

There are currently five raptors that call Meadowside Nature Center home. Click through the questions below to learn more about each of the birds of prey.

Each of the raptors receives excellent human care which includes an active enrichment and training program. Enrichment and training stimulate their minds and expand their activity level to replicate a natural life. Our qualified naturalists focus on raptor cognitive behavior, food, social, and sensory activities.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Great Horned Owl

Gret Horned Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Black Vulture

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Calusa – Great Horned Owl

Scarlet – Red-Tailed Hawk

Orion – Bald Eagle

Summer – Red-Shouldered Hawk

Calusa – Great Horned Owl
Gillis – Black Vulture