Alaska Raptor Center: Saving Birds of Prey in Sitka




Alaska Raptor Center

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If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, the Alaska Raptor Center is a must-visit destination. Located in Sitka national historical park, the center offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about birds of prey and their role in the ecosystem. The center’s mission is to rehabilitate injured birds of prey and release them back into the wild, as well as to educate the public about these majestic creatures.

The Alaska Raptor Center is also involved in research and conservation initiatives. By visiting the center, you’re not only supporting the rehabilitation and release of injured birds of prey, but also contributing to the center’s efforts to protect these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

What Does the Alaska raptor center Do?

The Alaska Raptor Center, situated in the picturesque town of Sitka, is a remarkable facility dedicated to the mission of promoting and safeguarding wild populations of raptors and other bird species. It is renowned for its pioneering work in avian rehabilitation, education, and research, which are the three pillars supporting the organization’s efforts in wildlife conservation.

A significant part of the center’s work involves providing medical treatment to injured birds, predominantly raptors such as bald eagles. Their team of experienced and dedicated veterinarians, staff, and volunteers is committed to nurturing these creatures back to health. Every year, the center receives between 100 to 200 birds that have been injured or fallen ill. The causes of these injuries range from collisions with man-made structures to natural mishaps. Upon arrival, each bird undergoes a comprehensive medical examination, followed by a carefully designed treatment and rehabilitation program.

The center’s facilities are equipped to handle a variety of medical needs, from surgery to physiotherapy, aiming for the ultimate goal of releasing the birds back into the wild. The Flight Training Center, also known as the “Eagle Flight,” plays a vital role in this process. It is the largest of its kind in the world, allowing the birds to build their strength and relearn the skills necessary for survival in their natural habitats.

Education & Research

Te Alaska Raptor Center is heavily invested in education. The belief is that knowledge fosters appreciation, and appreciation fosters conservation which enhance wild populations. It conducts public tours, hosts school groups, and offers numerous educational programs, making it an invaluable resource for local communities and tourists alike. Each encounter is a chance for visitors to learn about the biology, ecology, and conservation needs of raptors. This initiative extends to the center’s robust online presence, offering a platform to reach a global audience.

The center is actively involved in research. Collaborating with local and national institutions, the center contributes to the growing body of knowledge about raptors, their habits, habitats, and the challenges they face. These efforts go hand in hand with its mission to enhance wild bird populations, as the data gathered is invaluable in devising effective conservation strategies.

Although the Alaska Raptor Center is particularly known for its work with bald eagles, it doesn’t discriminate based on species. Any bird in need of care will find a haven here, reflecting the center’s broad commitment to avian conservation. The center also serves as a model for other rehabilitation centers worldwide, showcasing how compassion for wildlife can lead to meaningful and impactful action.

Location and Admission

Once in Sitka, you can get to the Alaska Raptor Center by following Halibut Point Road north, turning onto Sawmill Creek Road, and finally turning onto Raptor Way. The center is well-signposted, and most locals will know how to direct you as well. The center is located by the Tongass National Forest on the Indian River.

Juneau and Ketchikan

If you’re visiting Juneau or Ketchikan during the summer visitor season, be sure to visit the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary (ARS), located down the South Tongass Highway. The ARS is home to a variety of birds of prey, including bald eagles, hawks, and owls. Admission to the ARS includes a guided tour of the sanctuary, where you’ll learn about the birds and their habitat.

Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Ketchikan. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, black bears, and salmon. Admission to the sanctuary includes a guided tour of the rainforest, where you’ll learn about the ecology of the area and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

Prices for admission to experience Alaska Raptor Center vary depending on the season. During the spring and summer months, admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children. During the fall and winter months, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Group rates are also available for families and other groups.

Raptors and Wildlife

If you’re a fan of raptors and wildlife, then the Alaska Raptor Center is the perfect place for you to visit. Here are some highlights of what you can expect to see during your visit:


The Alaska Raptor Center is home to 25 Raptors-In-Residence, who can no longer fly or fend for themselves. These birds include eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls. Each bird has its own unique story and personality, and you’ll have the chance to learn about them during your visit.

Eagle Creek

The Alaska Raptor Center is located on a 17-acre campus in Sitka, Alaska. The campus includes a 40-acre rainforest reserve that is home to Eagle Creek, where you can see bald eagles, black bears, otters, and seals feeding on salmon during the spawning season. The reserve also has walking trails and boardwalks that bring you right up close to old growth trees.

Tongass National Forest

The Alaska Raptor Center is located in the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest national forest in the United States. The forest is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including raptors, songbirds, and other predators. During your visit to the Alaska Raptor Center, you’ll have the chance to learn about the important role that the Tongass National Forest plays in protecting and preserving these species.

Totem Park

Totem Park, officially known as the Sitka National Historical Park, is a culturally rich and historically significant park located in Sitka, Alaska. It’s widely recognized for its impressive collection of totem poles and the site of the Battle of Sitka in 1804, which marked the last major armed conflict between Native Alaskans and Europeans.

The park covers a total area of about 113 acres, including a scenic coastal rainforest setting along the Pacific Ocean. There, visitors can explore a variety of trails that wind through towering Sitka spruce trees. These paths are peppered with beautifully carved totem poles, each narrating a unique story of the Tlingit and Haida people.

The park also houses the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, where visitors can witness local artisans at work, creating new totem poles and preserving old ones. Artifacts, historical exhibits, and cultural presentations are also part of the center’s offerings, enhancing understanding and appreciation of Southeast Alaska Native Cultures.

To reach Totem Park from downtown Sitka, you can take a leisurely walk, bike, or a short drive. It’s located approximately one mile from the center of town. Visitors are advised to check the park’s official website for current hours of operation and any potential access restrictions.

Rehabilitation and Release

At Alaska Raptor Center, the rehabilitation and release of injured birds is a top priority. Each year, the center provides medical treatment to over 200 injured birds, including bald eagles and other raptors. The goal is to heal, rehabilitate, and release all avian patients back into the wild.

The rehabilitation process begins with intensive medical treatment in the center’s ICU. Once stabilized, the birds move to the flight training center, where they undergo physical therapy and flight training to regain their strength and agility. Volunteers play a crucial role in the rehabilitation process, providing care and support to the recovering birds.

The center’s services go beyond just medical treatment and rehabilitation. They also work to educate the public about the importance of raptors and their role in the ecosystem. The Alaska Raptor Center offers educational programs and tours to visitors, providing an up-close look at these magnificent birds and their rehabilitation process.

The ultimate goal of rehabilitation and release is to return the birds to their natural habitat. However, some birds may be too severely injured to fully recover and survive in the wild. In these cases, the Alaska Raptor Center provides a permanent home for these “Raptors-in-Residence,” who can no longer fly or fend for themselves.

Types of Birds Treated At the Center

The Alaska Raptor Center is well-known for its work rehabilitating a wide range of bird species not just injured raptors, particularly those native to Alaska. Here are some of the types of birds that the center has been known to treat:

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagles

Peregrine Falcons


Northern Goshawks

Red-tailed Hawks

Rough-legged Hawks

Northern Harriers

Swainson’s Hawks

Cooper’s Hawks

Sharp-shinned Hawks

Merlin Falcons

American Kestrels

Great Horned Owls

Northern Saw-whet Owls

Snowy Owls

Boreal Owls

Barred Owls

Short-eared Owls

Long-eared Owls

Northern Pygmy Owls

Spotted Owls

Screech Owls

Western Screech Owls

Common Ravens

Black-billed Magpies



Gulls and many other birds.

It should be noted that while the Raptor Centre primarily focuses on birds of prey, it also attends to other avian species that are in need of care. The center is a critical part of avian conservation efforts in Alaska, treating hundreds of injured or sick birds every year. Birds that are too ill to be released are kept in wildlife centers throught the US.

What is the sitka tour?

The Sitka Tour, often referred to as the Sitka City Tour or the Sitka Sightseeing Tour, is a popular guided journey around the town of Sitka, Alaska, showcasing the city’s rich history, natural beauty, and unique wildlife. The whole tour often includes a number of notable landmarks and attractions.

The Sitka National Historical Park, also known as Totem Park, is usually one of the main stops, with its stunning collection of totem poles and the site of a significant battle between Russian traders and indigenous Tlingit people.

The Alaska Raptor Center is another crucial highlight on the tour. Visitors get the chance to observe and learn about various Alaskan birds of prey, with a focus on conservation and rehabilitation efforts for these birds.

Other common attractions on the Sitka Tour may include St. Michael’s Cathedral, which is an important symbol of Russian influence in Sitka, the Sheldon Jackson Museum, which houses a vast collection of indigenous artifacts, and the Sitka Sound Science Center, where one can learn about local marine life.

The tour usually includes transportation, and a local guide provides insightful commentary about Sitka’s history, culture, and natural environment. Depending on the specific tour operator, other stops and activities may also be included. It’s an excellent way to familiarize oneself with Sitka, especially for first-time visitors.

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