What Causes the Problem


 What Kills or Injures Raptors?

Over 90 percent of the injured Raptors we receive are a direct or indirect result of man or civilization. Less than 10% are natural problems (weather, natural starvation, etc.)

We feel bound to give these wonderful birds a second chance, and that is our mission.

Car strikes are a major cause of raptor injuries.  They generally happen at night with owls swooping down low over the roads, and also occur to all raptors that are eating road kill.

60-80 Million birds are killed each year by vehicles

Bald Eagle

Raptors are Shot.  This Eagle has three broken bones and over 30 shot (including the wings and legs not shown).

It is illegal to shoot any bird, excepting those in season, and raptors and song birds are never allowed to be hunted.  Fighting Cock owners shoot them, as do people thinking they will take their chickens, game birds, sheep or live stock. Some people shoot raptors for no apparent reason. It is against federal law, and international treaty to shoot any migratory bird.

Fighting Cock owners illegally snare them as they don't want them to take their expensive chickens.  This is illegal. This photograph was provided by Federal Wildlife law enforcement and was used as evidence. At the lower portion of the picture are the cages for the fighting cocks.  The raptor gets caught in a noose type snare and often ends up with a broken leg and dies by starvation, unless the fighting cock owner shoots them first. 

Even though Cock fighting has been outlawed in Oklahoma it still is going on.

Power lines are a major problem for Eagles.  They are looking down and their wings rise above their body.

174 Million birds are killed each year by power lines

Radio and TV towers have guy wires that go unseen by birds.  They are very hard to see in the photograph even when you are looking for them. 

We rescued a Turkey Vulture from the base of this tower.  The injury was several days old and a compound fracture.  The bird had to be euthanized. 

29 Million birds are killed each year by communication towers

Wind turbine  farm outside of Las Vegas

Birds eye view of Ponnequin turbine farm in Northern Colorado-Bloomberg News

Wind turbine farms appeared to be a good source of renewable energy.  Environmentalists heavily promoted them. The technology is just becoming economically feasible and they are cropping up all over the country.  They are placed in high prevailing wind areas as you might expect.  However nobody apparently realized (or cared) that these winds are also used by migrating birds. The Altamont Pass Wind Area Resource is located East of San Francisco Bay. Since the 7000 giant wind turbines began operation 20 years ago, an estimated 22,000 birds have died flying into the spinning blades or the power lines going to them. Altamont Pass each year kills an estimated 881-1,300 birds, including 57-116 Golden Eagles, 209-300 Red-Tailed hawks., 99-380 burrowing owls, 73-333 American Kestrels, 8-10 Great Horned Owls, 15-24 Ferruginous hawks, and 36-49 Barn owls.

33,000 birds are killed each year by wind turbines.


Barbed wire is especially hard on Owls and Prairie chickens. Owls fly low in the process of catching prey and are often injured, and if not found often die.  

Prairie chickens are naturally low fliers and their numbers have declined drastically with barbed wire being a major contributor. There are conservation efforts to remove unneeded barbed wire in their habitat areas.

X-Ray of a Mississippi Kite. This bird was confiscated by a game ranger and delivered in a parakeet cage with a hot dog in the bottom of the cage.
Improper diet lead to 8 fractures. The bird was kept in rehab an extensive period of time but could never fly and had to be euthanized. Mammals get their calcium from their mothers milk.  Raptors get it by eating bone in rodents, and fish. Their bones go through extraordinary growth and an improper diet for even two days, when they are young, can result in their inability to ever fly.

Owls run into soccer nets, left up overnight, while hunting for rodents.

They get severe wing and sometimes eye damage and will starve to death unless found quickly.

Always take down your nets, before dark.


Utilities and individuals usually trim tree in the spring when new growth appears.

This is when squirrels and birds have young in their nest.  Over 95 percent of the squirrels and a high percentage of Screech owls and other birds brought into rehab are caused by tree trimmers.

This Eagle ingested an unknown poison.  It could have been poison set out for rats, pigeons or coyotes, or some industrial chemical.  In either event, it was caused by man.  Never put out poison, as you don't know for sure who will ingest it.   This bird had to be forced-fed for four weeks.  It finally recovered, but was not releasable. It has been transferred to the Sutton Avian Research Center for use in education.

Land fills typically have methane burners, which burn off the methane gas from the decomposing buried organic material. The burners routinely go out and are re-ignited and flare up. It's not uncommon for hawks to land on them and be burned.  If the now flightless birds, are not rescued quickly they will starve.

Eagles, and other birds are often struck by aircraft.  They can do a hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to a jet engine and if the strike is on a single engine fighter can cause loss of the aircraft, and perhaps a pilot. The picture is of a C-130 flying near Tacoma, Washington, and an eagle came through the skin of the aircraft, and into the cabin, striking the pilot. If the strike had been a couple of feet higher it may have severely injured  the pilot. The eagle was killed, and the pilot and crew were very lucky.

Habitat destruction is still the major force threatening all wildlife.  There is no prey in a parking lot.  When developers bulldoze and fill in a pond, they displace a hawk.  When they cut down trees, they displaced an owl. 

Over 100 million birds are killed by free-roaming cats each year.

The photographs of the car strike, owl snare, windmill farm, and C-130 were provided by others with permission

Oklahoma Raptor Center  Copyright 2005