Shaver's Creek to update raptor area as improvements continue at nature center

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A barred owl has lived at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center since 1989. A golden eagle came one year later, and two more birds have called the Penn State outdoor education field lab and nature center home for a quarter of a century.

But now, for the first time, Shaver’s Creek’s 18 raptors will get new homes as construction continues at the Petersburg, Huntingdon County, center.

“The improvements will give the animals more choices in their own environment,” said Jason Beale, Shaver’s Creek’s program director of live animal care. “We’re flipping the enclosures to track the sunlight throughout the day. There will be more visibility for the birds and for the public to view them. They’ll be bigger enclosures, which will allow staff to work with them more efficiently and for the birds to move around and express natural behaviors.”

Six new raptor enclosures and an upper classroom comprise the latest component of a multi-phase expansion and renovation project at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Major improvements are being made to the center for the first time.

Beale said the raptors have been dealing with unsettling conditions, including unfamiliar sights and sounds, during the construction’s ongoing first phase. Blue fencing has surrounded most of the raptor area, and six birds have been temporarily relocated to accommodate construction.

“They’ve been distressed, and we’ve tried to be very respectful with them,” he said. “We tried to make the experience positive and engaging. Once we get the birds engaged it’s an opportunity to get them used to it. One of the things we need to do is re-socialize them to groups of visitors.”

The new enclosures are slated to be finished in time for the grand re-opening during Labor Day weekend. The center closed for construction in September 2016.

Beale said the upgrades will allow him and his team to work with more Penn State classes and to expand the center’s volunteer program, giving students who are looking for a career that involves working with live animals a better support network and hands-on experience.

He also hopes the improvements will leave visitors inspired.

“We’d like to see our animals inspire some type of conservation activity at home,” he said. “The new layout will be more concise. It will be more of a specific center located around a specific hub. We can tell conservation stories as visitors move through the center and let the animals reinforce those stories through their interactions with the public.”

Visit the Shaver’s Creek website for more information.

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Last Updated June 01, 2018