Carolina Raptor Center

The Carolina Raptor Center, which got its unlikely start in the basement of the science building at UNCC, has come a long way. Since the arrival of the first injured owl in 1979, the non-profit organization has grown to one of the largest raptor rehabilitation centers in the United States. Last year, more than 650 injured and orphaned birds of prey were brought to the center for help.


The Carolina Raptor Center also operates a living museum that teaches people about the value and habits of raptors. More than 100 birds whose injuries make it impossible for them to survive in the wild are permanent residents of CRC, and serve as ambassadors for their species.

There are over twenty species of raptors on the nature trail, where visitors can get a close look at them. Many of the birds go on the road with CRC's Wild Wings program, helping to educating thousands each year at schools, businesses and events throughout the state.

Carolina Raptor Center's research programs help safeguard our environmental health. In the past, the decline of eagles and osprey alerted us of the dangers of DDT. Today, raptors are helping us monitor the West Nile virus in our neighborhoods and mercury in the water we drink.

Carolina Raptor Center is assisting Mecklenburg County's with programs like the detection and monitoring of the potentially lethal West Nile virus by watching for symptoms in birds of prey throughout the Carolinas. Birds suspected of infection are sent to the Centers for Disease Control lab for testing. The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause an inflammation of the brain in people, or in the worst cases, death.

"Once again, we have a situation where raptors are serving as indicators of the environment's health," said Alan Barnhardt, executive director of Carolina Raptor Center. "Monitoring for West Nile virus is just one area where we can use our expertise and facilities to help the community."

Mercury poisoning is another potential community environmental concern. In the last year, CRC has diagnosed several bald eagles with mercury poisoning. Since bald eagles' main diet is fish, the mercury poisonings raise the question about the health of our waterways and the safety of fish for human and animal consumption. Mercury can lower the body's resistance to disease and cause brain damage.

Volunteers give hands-on care to recovering birds. Stretching exercises are important for healing. Take your medicine like a good bird. Raptors are Take your medicine like a good bird at Carolina Raptor Center, Charlotte, NC given stretching exercises during the rehab process.

 "Until the first eagle was diagnosed, we had never seen mercury poisoning in eagles," said Mathias Engelmann, rehabilitation coordinator at CRC. "We don't know if we're now seeing cases of mercury in raptors because there's a larger problem in the environment or not."

Since 1979, approximately 8,400 injured and orphaned raptors have come to CRC. Each year, the staff treats an average of 650 raptors and returns approximately 350 back into the wild.

Carolina Raptor Center operates with the support of more than 1,000 members and 600 adopt-a-bird "parents," some 175 dedicated volunteers, and contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations. More than 90,000 visitors, including 55,000 school kids, visit CRC each year.
Way to go:
Located in Latta Plantation Nature Preserve off Beatties Ford Road just 20 minutes north of Charlotte, CRC is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday thur Saturday, and noon -5 p.m. Sunday. (CRC is closed some holidays.) Fees: adults, $5; seniors and students older than 6, $3 and children under 6, free. Audio trail guides are available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. For more information, call (704) 875-8561 or visit the Web site at

Carolina Raptor Center
P.O. Box 16443, Charlotte, NC 28297
Phone: 704-875-6521

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