The Macbride Raptor Project or "MRP" is a nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of Iowa's raptors and their natural habitats. We achieve our goals through the rehabilitation of sick and injured raptors, educational programs for the public, and field research of Iowa's native birds of prey.
MRP was founded in 1985 as the University of Iowa Raptor Rehabilitation Center. In February of 1989 it became the Macbride Raptor Center, a jointly sponsored organization, utilizing staff and facilities of both the University of Iowa (U of Iowa) and Kirkwood Community College (KCC). In 1995, the name was changed to the Macbride Raptor Project. This name was selected because it was a better reflection of all of the various agencies and volunteers coming together to support Iowa's raptors.
Kirkwood Community College
Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids is home to the MRP medical clinic. At this clinic each raptor is initially examined and treated. The students in KCC's Veterinary Technician/Animal Health Technologies program, under the direction of Dr. Randy Ackman, DVM, help to provide medical treatment and nursing care. Many students have the opportunity to train with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
The campus at Kirkwood Community College also provides a home for several permanent resident raptors. These birds of prey are housed near the horticulture department. They are cared for by volunteers and students of KCC's Parks and Natural Resources program. Visitors are welcome, please call (319) 398-5495 for more information.
University of Iowa
At the University of Iowa's Macbride Nature Recreation Area is a large enclosure called a "flight cage." This cage is designed to provide conditioning and reclamation for raptor patients prior to their release. It is the largest and most effective facility of its kind in Iowa.
The Macbride Nature and Recreation Area also serves as a home to several species of permanently disabled eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons. They are housed outdoors near the Nature Center, and the public is welcome to visit year round. April-October the hours are 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, daily. November-March hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Guided tours must be pre-arranged by calling (319) 398-5495.
Raptors and Humans
Raptors are majestic, wild, beautiful and mysterious creatures. They appear in our myths, legends, and art as powerful symbols of natural forces. The graceful soaring of an eagle, the swift descent of a falcon, and the moonlit silhouette of an owl thrills us. These images are an important part of our natural heritage – often uplifting and inspiring the human spirit.
Even more significant, however, is the importance of raptors to the well being of the natural ecosystem. As predators, they perform the essential role of helping to keep prey populations in balance with food supply. On agricultural lands, a hawk or owl is a valuable ally, saving the farmer hundreds of dollars each year in crop damage caused by rodents. Elsewhere, the raptor is an important link in the food chain and an indicator of environmental quality.
Unfortunately for us, and for raptors, human activities have taken a heavy toll on these wonderful birds. Hawks, owls and eagles are still illegally shot, trapped, and poisoned – taking the blame for livestock losses or simply killed for sport. Because of their lofty place in the food chain, raptors have been devastated by environmental contaminants, such as DDT and other pesticides. Because they require a variety of habitats for breeding and hunting, raptors have also been seriously affected by the disappearance of prairies, wetlands, and forests. Due to a combination of these factors, over half of the raptor species historically nesting in Iowa are either gone or on the state endangered species list.
Each year the Macbride Raptor Project receives approximately 150 to 200 patients. Most of these birds have been injured by cars or have been illegally shot or trapped. Initial treatment of the injured bird occurs at Kirkwood's Animal Health Technologies program with the help of veterinarians and trained staff, as well as students. Continued treatment is provided by KCC Veterinary Technology students, MRP staff and trained volunteers.Those birds that have a chance for recovery are transferred to the flight cage at the Macbride Nature and Recreation Area where they receive physical therapy directed by MRP staff and conducted by trained volunteers. Some raptors we cannot save. However, about 40 percent make a full recovery. A few birds are left permanently crippled by their injuries and are placed with properly licensed zoos, nature centers, or other qualified facilities. Still others, with no chance of survival in the wild or prospect of placement, are euthanized.
A raptor has an intensely wild and free spirit. To come to the aid of one of these birds is to give expression to a similar spirit within us. In this context, the successful recovery and return to the wild of a raptor that has fallen victim to a hunter, trap, or car, takes on a special significance. The rehabilitation work is symbolic of a deep concern for things wild and free. It is recognizing and taking responsibility for a small portion of the impact that we as humans have on the wildlife around us.
Helping an injured raptor
The Macbride Raptor Project "MRP" provides care for injured raptors. Our licensed rehabilitators and veterinarians are on staff to diagnose, advise, and heal birds of prey.
We advise anyone finding an injured raptor to place it in a box just slightly larger than the bird with a few small holes for ventilation. It is important NOT TO GIVE IT FOOD OR WATER. Allow the raptor to rest in the box, in a cool quiet place, until it can be delivered to MRP or picked up by a volunteer.
Help us by helping raptors
If you see an injured raptor then follow these steps:
- Be sure to note exactly where the injured bird was found as well as any strange or suspicious circumstances.
- Don't handle the bird. It is best not to touch the raptor until you receive proper instructions.
- Contact us immediately! While you wait for us, it is important not to offer the bird any food or water.
To report an injured raptor call (319) 398-5495 anytime of the day. DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE A MESSAGE WITH YOUR NAME AND PHONE NUMBER, and remember MRP is staffed by volunteers. Therefore, your call will be returned as quickly as possible.
MRP is continually conducting research to help understand the needs of Iowa's raptors in the wild. Some of the projects include: the survivability of released rehabilitated raptors, raptor migration along the Iowa river, American Kestrel nestbox usage, the reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons, and the introduction of Osprey into the wild.
Our educational programs are probably the most important outreach activity of the MRP. Through education of the public we can promote an understanding of the interdependence of all organisms including raptors and humans.
Iowa Birds of Prey:
With this program we travel with two of our non-releasable raptors to local schools and organizations. The program usually lasts from 45 min - 1 hour, depending on the age group. This program is interactive and open for questions. Once again we stress the three statements the project yearns to uphold; Research, Rehabilitation, and Education. We focus on the Id Characteristics and habitat requirements of the two birds with us on the program.
This program is available to groups, organizations, and individuals who generously sponsor one of our educational birds. The sponsored bird comes to the program whenever possible. If you are interested in sponsoring a bird take a look at the birds available for adoption. We require an annual commitment of at least $125. It is a great way to provide food, medical supplies, and upkeep to improve the quality of life for one of our non-releasable birds.