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 Eric Burrough, 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 may be 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.
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