Despite the Anacostia River’s pollution problems, water quality has improved enough to support a growing population of birds of prey. Under strict federal and state permits, the Earth Conservation Corps conducts educational programs with non-releasable birds of prey to teach Corps members, school children, and volunteers about pollution, adaptations, habitats, and food chains. The presence of raptors in the Anacostia Watershed — who sit atop the food chain — signals the return of a healthy river ecosystem that Corps members work to preserve and expand.
Birds of prey were a star attraction last year in our highflying raptor education program on Kingman and Heritage Islands, carried out in partnership with the American Eagle Foundation. More than 300 D.C. elementary school students witnessed seven live raptors, including two bald eagles, a golden eagle, a peregrine falcon, and Mr. Hoots (the owl) — all permitted for educational use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — display their awesome vision and flying ability. The highlight of each educational session is the live flight of the famous American bald eagle, Challenger.