SANTA ANA, Calif. — The raptors at the Orange County Bird of Prey Center in Trabuco Canyon don't look like they'd need help. All of the owls, hawks, and falcons have the hooked beaks and the sharp talons of a raptor, but they do need help.

The birds arrive at the center for many reasons, among them, trauma and poison.

What You Need To Know

  • The Orange County Bird of Prey Center had to move their location five months ahead of schedule

  • The Center's new location is in Trabuco Canyon

  • They had to give up things like insulation and dry wall in their own building and electricity in the caretaker rooms

  • The financial cuts are needed to keep the birds protected

Peggy Chase is the center’s executive director, and it is her job to help rehabilitate the birds in hopes of returning them to the wild. Her love for birds started 30 years ago when she was in college.

“The place I was at, the school I was at, had a raptor rehab center. I walked in and went, ‘oh wow, this is what I want to do,’” Chase said.

The Orange County Bird of Prey Center had planning to move to its current location, Trabuco Canyon, for about four years. Their timeline was sped up by five months because of the ongoing pandemic.

Their former location needed them to move, and with about three-quarters of the funding they needed for their new location, the center picked up and moved. Because the center was short of their goal, financial cuts had to be made during the move.

Birds are now being housed in mews that are on loan, and donated from a local biologist. The center decided to forgo items like insulation, dry wall in their own building, and electricity in the caretaker rooms to save on costs so they could keep the birds protected.

“Not nearly as easy for our volunteers. There’s a lot more work that they’re going to have to do with the new enclosures, but, it’s what we needed to do to make it work for the birds,” said Chase.

What's made things even tighter on their budget is that their revenue stream has been cut. The center relies on educational opportunities for revenue, but with schools learning at a distance, the center has not had any opportunities.

Currently, they've only been able to educate publicly at The Ranch in Laguna Beach, and rehabilitating birds and caring for their educational birds is not cheap. 

“The average cost to rehabilitate a bird is about $1,000. When we’re looking at with our ‘ed’ birds they’re about, well for everything they need, they’re almost $12,000,” Chase said.

Chase and her volunteers are motivated by the raptors that they care for every day.

“People say like, ‘Why do you do this?’ It’s like, well why do I breathe? These are magnificent creatures, and they just call to some of us,” she said.

Chase hopes to make sure the new center takes flight.