MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the place to call when a hurt bird needs help.

The Raptor Center’s wildlife hospital has treated more than 16,000 birds during the last 40 years.

Already, it’s helped 580 owls, eagles and falcons in 2014.

In 1917, the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine established the Raptor Center to better understand the challenges these birds are facing in the wild.

Dr. Julia Ponder is the center’s executive director.

“Forty years ago, bald eagles were on the ropes, peregrine falcons were gone east of the Rockies,” Ponder said.

The Raptor Center has become a global leader in researching how birds of prey and people live side-by-side.

Doctors from 27 different countries have come to the University of Minnesota campus to study.

While the Raptor Center is part of the U, it’s not funded by the U. It’s dependent on volunteers and donors, many of whom help with the center’s community outreach.

The Raptor Center is one of the only places you can experience the jaw-dropping awe of standing nose-to-beak with a bald eagle. The birds are seen by 150,000 to 200,000 people each year.

Some of the birds who can’t fully heal become winged ambassadors. Thirty-three raptors are a part of the center’s outreach team.

“It’s one of the things we take advantage of is that these birds are so charismatic,” Ponder said. “People love them, they capture attention.”

The Fall Public Raptor Release is Saturday, Sept. 27 at Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings.

There are family activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center will release some of its rehabilitated raptors at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Raptor Center is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, and offers tours in the afternoon.

Click here for more information.

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