Nebraska August 24, 2016
The Delightful Canopy Walk You Can Only Find In Nebraska
For all of the beautiful landscape and other features it does have, Nebraska isn’t known for being a naturally wooded state…so any activity or attraction that involves treetops is kind of a big deal.
Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue recently opened a beautiful walkway suspended high above the forest floor – and you’ll want to visit.
The Raptor Woodland Refuge is a brand new part of the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center.
All photos via author except where noted
The refuge lets visitors see birds of prey up close.
The facility consists of several structures that sit high above the forest floor and a walkway that connects them all.
Inside the buildings are birds of prey being cared for by the Raptor Recovery group.
Raptor Recovery is a network of volunteers and professionals dedicated to the health and wellbeing of raptors. When an injured bird is reported, the team mobilizes to provide it the treatment it needs.
Dedicated volunteers from all across Nebraska help identify raptors in need and get them to the trauma care unit.
Some raptors stay with the recovery center for days and others are in recovery for years.
All of the birds on display here were rescued and are receiving the best possible care.
The bird habitats are made to resemble the birds' natural homes, and being situated among the tree canopies helps with that illusion.
The ultimate goal of Raptor Recovery is to release the birds when they are able to take care of themselves in the wild.
Of the birds cared for by the group, 45 percent recover and are released into the wild.
Another five percent can't be released, so they stay on at the rehabilitation center as education birds.
Unfortunately, a full 50 percent of raptors treated at the rehab facility succumb to their injuries.
The Raptor Recovery team treats more than 450 injured, ill, or orphaned birds each year.
In the middle of the circular route, two suspended bridges provide a fun way to hop from one side to the other (or you can walk all the way around and avoid the bridges).
The entire attraction is wheelchair accessible and doesn't take long to explore.
Outside of each habitat is an informational display with details about the bird(s) inside. You'll learn something new as you get some exercise, soak up the sun, and look at the lovely birds.
The current birds in residence include several species of hawks, one of the peregrine falcons from the top of the Woodmen Tower in downtown Omaha, several species of owls, a kestrel, an osprey, a northern harrier, and a turkey vulture.
A visit to the
Raptor Woodland Refuge is included in the Fontenelle Forest admission price. You can find the forest and the refuge at 1111 Bellevue Boulevard North, Bellevue, NE 68005. While you’re there, be sure to take a hike on the extensive forest trail system or on the wheelchair-accessible forest boardwalk.