At the Mews
The 16 birds of prey in our Raptor Program live in a mews, a building designed specifically for them. It is here that our three staff members and more than 40 volunteers provide for their needs. Each of our birds has a unique personality and it’s rewarding to get to know and work with each of them. Although this is their forever home, and they are habituated, each of our birds are still wild animals that can educate the public about their wild counterparts.
Daily Care, Training, and Enrichment
Schlitz Audubon has state and federal permits to have these magnificent birds for educational programming. By nature, most raptors are solitary animals that are not accustomed to very much human exposure. After participating in programs, our birds need plenty of time to recover and relax. Our birds live at a secluded private facility so they can feel safe and secure with the company of other raptors.
Each day a team of volunteers and staff take care of the birds’ needs. This includes cleaning the mews, providing fresh water, preparing and parsing out the birds’ food, and training and enrichment. It’s here, behind the scenes, where the birds learn the basics of how to be a teacher to the public. Staff and volunteers invest a lot of time building trusting relationships with the birds.
Enrichment plays a crucial role in ensuring our animals’ well-being and mental stimulation. Enrichment is basically a fancy word for how we work to make the birds’ lives more enjoyable. Each species, and each bird is as unique as individual humans. As such, they enjoy different surroundings, games, and activities. Enrichment encourages the animals’ natural instincts while working out both their body and mind. For some birds this means playing with snowballs, other birds love to “hunt” tennis balls. Some birds enjoy building a nest with branches. Like any relationship, we pay attention to how each bird responds to stimuli, so that we can work to enhance their lives.
We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our volunteers! More than 40 active volunteers see to the needs of the birds on a daily basis. Each Raptor volunteer goes through intensive training to take care of volunteer responsibilities: from cleaning to ensuring the welfare of the birds to being educators out in the public. At the current time, we are in the fortunate position that all Raptor volunteer positions are filled. Learn about other ways you can volunteer at Schlitz Audubon.