Bigfork Eagle, September 18, 2002
by By Gregory O’Toole

Raptors of the Rockies

On Saturday, September 28th, Raptors of the Rockies will hold their 4th annual fund-raising event in Missoula. Dinner, followed by a book signing with zoologist, artist, and educator Kate Davis and her recently published educational volume "Raptors of the Rockies", a live art auction with auctioneer John Engen, and music from Montana favorites Cash for Junkers are among the featured events scheduled for the evening.

Since 1988, Raptors of the Rockies has been operating as a non-profit 501(c)(3) education and rehabilitation project for injured and orphaned birds of prey. Currently, Raptors Ranch, located along the Bitterroot River south of Missoula, is home to over a dozen species of disabled birds.

Founder and Executive Director of Raptors of the Rockies, Kate Davis first began rehabilitating orphaned and injured birds and mammals with the Cincinnati Zoo in 1973. This was the beginning of Davis' career in education, taxidermy, and wildlife art.

In 1978, after relocating to Missoula, Kate received a degree in Zoology with honors from the University of Montana in 1982.

Davis' mission for herself and her organization have always been "to assist injured and/or orphaned raptors with the ultimate goal of returning them to their natural habitat and to provide a lifetime of quality care to permanently disabled birds of prey, to educate schools and the public through the use of live birds such as eagles, hawks, falcons and owls in raptor education and wildlife art programs, to instill a sense of respect and admiration for these skilled hunters and to promote wildlife conservation and habitat preservation for our wild bird populations."

The 31 species of raptors Davis and her team observe year round are the American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, Coopers Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Merlin, Northern Goshawk, Northern Harrier, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Boreal Owl, Burrowing Owl, Flammulated Owl, Great Gray Owl, Great Horned Owl, Long-eared Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Short-eared Owl, Snowy Owl, and the Western Screech Owl.

The Sept. 28th event coincides with the recent release of Davis' educational volume entitled "Raptors of the Rockies". The new book is a lively and informative guide to the thirty-one Rocky Mountain birds of prey species.

Raptors board of directors member Ken Lockwood of Lockwood Designs heads up the local Missoula graphics firm that collaborated with Kate to come up with a fresh and vivid design for the recent raptors publication. Most days, when he's not wrapped up in his home office with a new design idea, Lockwood can be found navigating one of many Montana rivers by canoe and paddle.

Lockwood Designs found a personal interest with the bird project and with Davis' organization as an important institution for Montana's wildlife.

“My favorite part of working on the book was meeting on the (Snowbowl) chairlift with proofs every couple of days,” said Lockwood. “Also one of my childhood dreams was to handle a baby Peregrine Falcon after reading "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean George. Kate has helped me realize this dream, and it sure beats the hell out of building car ads for the Missoulian!”

The funds brought in through the auction event will go to support the Raptor Ranch and the twelve species of birds that currently call the ranch home.

The organization is largely funded by donations, grants, program fees, and a unique "Adopt a Raptor" program (see All contributions are tax-deductible.

The operations funding breakdown for the year 2001 was as follows: 8% program fees, 17% donations, 40% grants, 23% auctions, 9% adoptions, and 1% interest earned.

The money from the auction will go to cover the expenses of operating the ranch 365 days a year. These expenses include: enough food for each of the large hunting birds, freezer space, maintenance of roofing, netting, predator-proofing, perches, bathing pools and feeding stations, daily care, insurance, and mileage that exceeds 5000 miles a year in the "raptor mobile" to educate and inform the public.

In his foreword for "Raptors of the Rockies", Dr. Richard L. Hutto of the University of Montana and host of BirdWatch, the PBS Television show, reports, "I'm delighted to see this book; it's a perfect companion for Kate's public presentations, and it stands well on its own as a guide to raptor of the Rockies. Kate's photography, artwork, and text provide a wonderful stimulus to learn more about this most captivating group of birds."

Tickets for the upcoming fund-raising auction are a generous donation of $15 a person or $25 a couple. To learn more about the event, visit or contact