Raptor Rehabilitation Project picnic

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COLUMBIA — The bird's the word at the Raptor Rehabilitation Project's annual family picnic.

More than 50 people met with eight resident raptors at the RRP compound Sunday afternoon. Raptors include hawks, owls, eagles and other taloned birds. 

The RRP offers rehabilitation services to injured birds of prey within the state.

Abigail Rainwater, the RRP manager, said the picnic is a great time to show the compound's appreciation for all of the funding they receive throughout the year.

"It's our way of saying thank you to the community that supports us, to the volunteers who have that interest and help us out each year," Rainwater said.

The RRP is funded primarily through donations for day-to-day operations, which can be made through a symbolic adoption of a raptor. MU provides an endowment to cover long-term goals, used for building maintenance and funding flight cages. 

Rainwater said the community plays a major role in bringing the birds to the compound.

"We're an emergency and trauma care for raptors, so we depend on people in the community, finding them down on the ground, seeing that they're injured and then stepping up and making that call to invite us to come and get them," she said.

During the year, the compound rehabilitates about 100 to 150 raptors. RRP is busiest during migration season, which spans from the end of August to November.

Cynthia Wells, RRP's Public Relations Coordinator, said raptors help maintain a balanced environment by killing vermin and disease carrying rodents.

"We often don't realize how the way that we live can affect nature and the world around us. One example is raptors, birds of prey," Wells said. "They're incredibly important to the ecosystem and they're quite often injured by human interaction in one way or another, cars are one of the big ones."

The compound houses almost 20 birds undergoing rehabilitation and eight residential birds used as education ambassadors within the community.

Wells said she encourages anyone with an interest in raptors to visit the compound.

"We're always looking for new people to help out," she said. "For anybody who enjoys looking up at a hawk in the sky and wants to see them up close, or any other bird of prey for that matter, then definitely come on out."  

For more information about RRP events, visit their website, or to report an injured raptor, call (573) 882-7821 or (573) 882-4589.