The eagle has landed at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center...and needs a name

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An injured golden eagle has taken her place with the birds of the Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The Center's Draper Museum of Natural History uses the live birds to educate and engage visitors in wildlife conservation.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center golden eagle

Dr. Charles R. Preston with the new golden eagle. What's her name? The public is asked to help...

Name the golden eagle contest runs February 1 through February 14, 2013.

The Buffalo Bill Historical Center’s Draper Museum of Natural History in Cody, Wyoming, has announced the addition of a golden eagle to its Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience. The bird joins four other raptors (birds of prey) already in captivity at the Center: a peregrine falcon, a red-tailed hawk, a great horned owl, and a turkey vulture.

“We are thrilled at this opportunity, and very mindful of the responsibility we are granted with this bird,” said Senior Curator Dr. Charles R. Preston of the Draper Museum. “She will be a powerful messenger for our mission to connect people with nature; she embodies great cultural significance; and she represents an especially sacred trust for our institution.”

The female adult golden eagle had been feeding on road kill along Interstate 90 in the Powder River area of Wyoming, when she was hit by a vehicle. She was taken to the Northeast Wyoming (NEW) Bird Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Gillette, Wyoming, where staffers observed that she suffered a compound fracture to her right humerus (upper wing bone) that was exposed. Vets performed surgery to reduce the fracture and placed a pin in the bone. The bone healed and the pin was removed but, unfortunately, there was irreversible damage to the muscles, making her permanently unable to fly well enough to be wild again. She was housed at the NEW Center for approximately five months before her transfer to the Historical Center.

The Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience began in 2011, following two years of planning as Draper staff managed the project that saw permits obtained, housing built (called a “mews”), employees hired, and birds acquired. “The birds we care for are wild animals, not pets and we strive to represent them as such,” explained Assistant Curator Melissa Hill who manages the raptor project. “What’s unique about our program is that we actually have ongoing raptor field research, so our new golden eagle becomes a direct connection to our long-term scientific research.”

Of course, as with any special addition, a new name is needed. “We’re asking the public to help us name the golden eagle,” Hill said. “Just go to our web site, and enter your idea. In the case of duplicates, the name received first will receive the consideration. We encourage kids, parents, teachers, and everyone in between, to look at her history, and the characteristics of golden eagles in general (on the contest page) to come up with a unique name--as we've done with our other raptors. The winning entry receives a signed copy of Dr. Preston’s book, 'Golden Eagle: Sovereign of the Skies.' We look forward to seeing what our friends will come up with!”

The Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience is supported by the W.H. Donner Foundation and the Donner Canadian Foundation, as well as to our partners with the University of Wyoming’s Berry Center for Biodiversity Conservation.

Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and the nature of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is now operating its winter schedule through February 28: open Thursday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed Monday – Wednesday. For general information, visit the Center's Web site, or call 307.587.4771.

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Marguerite House

Dr. Charles R. Preston
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