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Meet the Birds of
Middle Tennessee Raptor Center

"I am the eagle, I live in high country in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky. I am the hawk and there's blood on my feathers, but time is still turning they soon will be dry. And all those who see me and all who believe in me, share in the freedom I feel when I fly."

The Eagle and The Hawk, by John Denver



Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Remi is a male Barn Owl that was born in captivity to become a raptor education ambassador. He came to us in September of 2017 as an owlet and is our resident jokester. Remi enjoys screeching at night when you least expect it and always waits until he's in the car to cough up his pellets. Photo credit: Tony Alonso Photography



Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

The fastest animal on the planet, Ruby is a female Peregrine Falcon that joined us in late 2019 all the way from Washington, where she finally retired from active hunting and breeding with another falconer after thirteen years. In a stoop, Peregrines can exceed 200mph! She is now living her best retirement life in Middle Tennessee.



Barred Owl (Strix varia)

The most common and most vocal owl in North America, Oakley is a young male Barred Owl who was orphaned too early and could not be replaced in his nest. He was found on the ground starving and dehydrated with minor injuries, likely from another predator attack. Now, he's a happy and healthy education ambassador at MTRC who loves attention and always wants to know, "Who cooks for you?"



Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Sewanee is a female Red-Tailed Hawk from the Sewanee/Monteagle area that was found with a gunshot wound through her wing and side. Due to the severity of the injury, she can no longer fly long distances and favors her wing. She is now our permanent Red Tail ambassador at MTRC. She has a sweet disposition with beautiful plumage that epitomizes why these magnificent birds are called Red-Tailed Hawks.



American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Zip is a female American Kestrel, also sometimes called a Sparrow Hawk, that was born in captivity in Vermont. She is our resident Kestrel ambassador and surrogate momma for orphaned baby kestrels. Her efforts help us return these tiny-but-mighty falcons to the wild. Kestrels are the smallest and most commonly found falcon in North America, but don't let her diminutive size fool you. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in attitude!

Redd and Finn.jpg

Reddington & Finley

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)

Redd and Finn are red-phase and grey-phase Eastern Screech Owls, both female. After a storm in Franklin, Tennessee, these two, along with their brother, Huckleberry, were blown down out of their nest as tiny owlets with their eyes barely open. It wasn't long before these cute little puffballs grew up and became our resident education ambassadors. Huck went on to another raptor center to be their owl ambassador and these two stayed with us. They are tiny, but mighty!



Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Always the star of the show, Lucy is a female Great Horned Owl that got into a tussle with four dogs when she was very young. She was left with a wing and leg injury that prevents her from flying normally. Great Horned Owls are the apex predator of Tennessee's skies, but Lucy is a sweetheart who loves to show off her species to everyone she visits.



Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

Hera came to us in 2021 from Auburn, Alabama where she was born in captivity as a breeding bird. She was born in 2017 and has raised a couple of clutches. Now, she's our newest education ambassador. Prairie Falcons are not native to Tennessee. They are typically found in the Western United States and Mexico.

Meet the Birds: Meet the Team

Our Founders

"Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops. Sail over the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future, and all that we can be and not what we are."

- The Eagle and the Hawk by John Denver


Valerie Russell

Founder and President

Valerie has been a falconer in Tennessee since 2016 and currently holds a TWRA Education permit and a Wildlife Rehabilitation permit. Her medical background in nursing and hospice is invaluable for the care of our injured and non-releasable birds.


Ian Turner

Founder and Vice-President

Ian has been a falconer in Tennessee since 2016 and currently holds a TWRA General Falconry permit. He has worked with different birds of prey across three states and focuses on proper handling techniques and technical aspects of care for our birds. He is also an Eagle Scout.


Lyle Russell

Founder, Secretary and Treasurer

Lyle is responsible for facilities construction, media and maintenance, as well as caring for our birds and ensuring they have the best amenities available during their time with us. He is in the process of earning his TWRA Falconry Educator permit and is a certified Tennessee Naturalist with a background in forestry.


Middle Tennessee Raptor Center

A Tennessee Non-Profit Corporation

We are a family-owned and licensed 501(c)3 wildlife rehabilitation and education organization dedicated to the conservation of and care for raptors and birds of prey. Our immediate goal is to protect these magnificent animals and educate the public on the benefits of their preservation. Our long term goals include opening a public nature center to continue our work to conserve and educate about raptors.

Meet the Birds: Meet the Team
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