The Cornell Raptor Program and its student participants contribute to research endeavors focusing on birds of prey. Our population of captive raptors are used in research projects as appropriate, and all data collected is done non-invasively and does not alter the birds’ normal captive lifestyles.  All research is done following Cornell Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Guidelines and approval.  Undergraduate students participate in research projects through the Department of Animal Science Undergraduate Research Program and work under the advisement of CRP director, Dr. Heather Huson and the lead project research scientist.  Undergraduate research students must be an established volunteer participant in the Cornell Raptor Program.

Current Research Projects

Feather Project – In Conjunction with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Select hawks and falcons in our program are participating in a long-term feather study. Those species include Harris’s Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Merlin, American Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Goshawk, and Red-tailed Hawk. All primary flight feathers and tail feathers from these birds are collected by students in the raptor program and sent to researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, who study molting patterns and replacement of damaged feathers based on time intervals between dropped feathers.

Telemetry & Release of Vision-Impaired Owls

The Cornell Raptor Program is working with veterinarians at Cornell’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital on a project studying the survival rate of released vision-impaired owls. 

Eye Study (OCT)

The Cornell Raptor Program has been working with an ophthalmology specialist at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, who uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) to create retinal images of raptors’ eyes.  This project will help with understanding some of the anatomical features that are associated with vision in birds of prey.

Red-tailed Hawk Research with the U.S. Air Force Academy

The Cornell Raptor Program recently collected fecal samples from our two resident red-tailed hawks, Eleanor and E3, to assist with an undergraduate research project led by Kaila Baca, a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. Kaila is using fecal samples from red-tailed hawks across the country to identify the microorganisms in raptor guts and determine how these microbes may affect raptor health.

If you are a research scientist interested in collaborating with the Cornell Raptor Program, please contact Dr. Heather Huson at