The following birds are those that reside at our facility for use in education or propagation. Our birds are non-releasable due to imprinting, injury, or other circumstances. Some of our propagation birds were captive bred and are fully-flighted or non-injured, but have been retained for conservation breeding. While all of our education birds are intended for use in our educational programs, it is important to note that many are still in training and may be unavailable for programs. If you are interested in requesting specific species, please contact us.
How do we know if our birds are male or female?
In many raptor species, it is extremely difficult to distinguish between sexes using visual clues alone. Female raptors are typically larger than males – from 1/2 to 1/3 larger in size and weight. However, there is some possible overlap in weight ranges, meaning body size and weight are not enough to guarantee a bird’s sex with 100% certainty.
We wanted to be certain about the sexes of all of the birds in our program, so we decided to do DNA tests. Dr. Huson is an animal geneticist and decided to utilize her laboratory resources to confirm the sex of our residents. This endeavor provided valuable knowledge on the sex of each bird so that we can use this information to better manage and understand behaviors of our residents. In addition, it was a great opportunity for the undergraduate students to conduct their own literature review to plan the process, blood collection for DNA extraction, and a series of laboratory procedures to extract DNA and determine sex. A few of our volunteers dedicated many hours obtaining blood samples, running the samples through tests in a lab, and finally…. we have our results! Most of the birds in our program were the sex we guessed they were… with a few exceptional surprises. Although we’ll be keeping their names unchanged to avoid any confusion, it’s exciting for us to share these findings with you!
Buddy is a girl! Long suspected to be a girl, Buddy the Barred Owl is now confirmed to be female. She is one of the oldest birds in our program, having been with us since 1995! She is missing her right wing due to a suspected car strike, and spends much of her time with Luna, our other female Barred Owl, who is missing her left wing.
Harrison…. is also a girl! Thought to be male until the DNA testing, Harrison is a Red-shouldered Hawk, and one of the few birds who was bred in captivity here at the Cornell Raptor Program to be an education ambassador. Harrison’s parents, Ford and Fischer, raised many chicks at the CRP which were hacked (released) into the wild to bolster wild populations of Red-shouldered Hawks.
Oscar is a boy! Oscar is one of our three rescued Barred Owls who came to us as an adult. He has a permanent wing injury which limits his ability to fly. He can be distinguished from Buddy and Luna by his darker brown head and body, and he is our only resident Barred Owl with both wings.
Ed is a girl! The most surprising result, Ed caught everyone by surprise! Ed is a Turkey Vulture, and was found with a permanent wing and leg injury that healed poorly and left her with a limp and unable to fly well enough to survive in the wild. She is the most mischievous bird in our program, and has a feisty reputation. She loves to play with all kinds of chew toys and shreds newspaper with ease!