By Emily Stifler
Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
BOZEMAN – Nigel the saw-whet owl, Pilgrim
the turkey vulture, Bu the great horned owl, Chaco
the Swainson’s hawk and Sammy the red-tailed
hawk all live at the Montana Raptor Conservation
Center northwest of Bozeman.
These birds were brought to the center for rehabilitation,
but because their injuries were too
severe for release back into the wild, they’re now
A nonprofit conservation organization, MRCC
was founded in 1988 as Big Sky Wildcare.
“As more people moved into the area, we were
seeing negative results with wildlife,” said
MRCC director Becky Kean.
By 2001, the group’s focus had narrowed to birds
of prey, so its name changed as well.
Because raptors are predators, they’re important
indicators of the health of an environment, Kean
“They’re at the top of the food chain in the bird
world… If the raptors weren’t around, there
would be rodents and insects everywhere. These
guys help keep that a healthy balance in the bird
Today the raptor center provides veterinary
and rehabilitative care for injured birds of prey
from around Montana. Designed specifically for
raptors, the facility has a flight barn for flight assessment
and conditioning. Currently it’s caring
for 25 injured raptors and has seven permanent
On Sunday, Aug. 26 from noon to 4 p.m., the rap –
tor center will host its second annual open house.
Because it’s a rehabilitative facility, not an educational
center, it isn’t open to the public, so the
open house is a rare opportunity, Kean said.
In addition to live ambassador raptors, the event
will feature kid’s activities, food and beverages,
and raffle prizes, including a chance to tour the
facility. Local roaster Redbird Coffee has made a
special blend for the Raptor Center and donated
one-pound bags of coffee to the center for purchase
during the open house.
The Raptor Center is off Springhill Road just
past Sypes Canyon Road and the fire station, at
161 Bent Wing Road. For more information call
the center at (406) 585-1211.