The Macbride Raptor Project, a program devoted to the preservation of Iowa’s birds of prey and their natural habitats, changed its name to the Iowa Raptor Project, effective June 1, 2016. The name change reflects the organization’s shifted focus from rehabilitating individual raptors, to field research focusing on habitat needs and identifying risks to preserve raptor populations.
“The new name allows us to emphasize our new vision for the project and hopefully helps clear up any confusion about who we are and the scope of what we do,” said Dave Conrads, associate director of Recreational Services. “Many people mistakenly think we are associated with Lake Macbride State Park and don’t realize we are a jointly sponsored program of University of Iowa Recreational Services and Kirkwood Community College that serves the entire state of Iowa.”
In the past year, the Raptor Project suspended its raptor rehabilitation program and began focusing on its commitment to preserve Iowa’s raptor populations and habitats through educational programs and working to develop life-cycle based field research to monitor nesting, wintering, and fall migration population level changes. The objectives will be to associate landscape and habitat needs, and identify potential risk factors such as developmental disturbance, contaminants, diseases, and others.
Shawn Hawks, Iowa Raptor Project coordinator, is a trained biologist that spent many years monitoring and studying the population ecology of birds, especially raptors, throughout their annual life-cycle. “I am very excited about bringing that experience back to Iowa, especially working with and training students and local Citizen Science volunteers,” said Hawks. "These research projects could not only have the potential to provide empirical data to further protect and enhance raptor and other native wildlife populations, but also provide hands-on experiential opportunities for students and volunteers to be involved in learning about birds and enhancing their habitat."
The Iowa Raptor Project started in 1985 as the University of Iowa Raptor Rehabilitation Center. Today, the Iowa Raptor Project (IRP) strives to preserve Iowa’s raptor populations and habitats through educational programs and field research. The Raptor Center at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area serves as the Project’s home base and displays over 20 non-releasable birds of prey representing species historically found in Iowa. The IRP is free and open to the public.