Our breeding program

The Raptor Center Hellenthal is predominantly involved in active public educational work to promote the preservation of the raptor and nature conservation. Yet, not only do we try to show visitors how fascinating and protection-worthy these impressive animals are, by means of flight programs, lectures and external events.
The breeding of these rare and mostly endangered "commanders of the air" is an important element of our work that contributes directly to the preservation of various species.

We have created species-appropriate conditions in our breeding facilities for many raptor and owl species, where they can spend their annual brooding period undisturbed.

We have successfully bred the following species: Saker falcons, peregrine falcons, laggar falcons, lanner falcons, kestrels, black kites, common buzzards, red-tailed hawks, Harris's hawks, ferruginous hawks and long-legged buzzards, golden eagles, imperial eagles, white-tailed sea eagles, bald eagles, Rueppel’s vulture, Eurasian eagle owls and various other species of owls.

Captive-bred raptors from Hellenthal have been used to reinforce weak free-ranging animal populations through release programs in the wild



Of course, all of the animals that you will encounter at our Raptor Center have been bred by falconers, zoos or wildlife parks and have not been captured in the wild.

One very special event that took place at the Raptor Center is the world's first-ever captive breeding of the national bird of the USA, the bald eagle. Raptor Center Hellenthal has been breeding this species since 1980.



Junger Greifvogel

Brütende Weisskopfseeadler

From the now more than 60 young eagles that have since hatched, the two young birds "Carol" and "Captain", born in 1982 were handed to the former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan by the eagles' breeder Niesters and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt along with Minister for Economic Affairs Dr. Otto Graf Lambsdorff.

The two young eagles were an official gift from the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of the President's first official visit to the country. Many raptor centers, zoos and falconries closely collaborate in national and international conservation, reintroduction and release programs to protect and secure the survival of these fascinating animals and the diverse abilities and special characteristics of each and every species.

Breeding has gained particular significance since the rapid reduction of wild raptors during the middle of the last century. By the late 1960s, several raptor and owl species were greatly endangered and nearly extinct. This could be mainly attributed to the now outlawed use of the pesticide DDT, which thinned egg shells causing egg breakage while laying and killed embryos through the chlorinated hydrocarbons it contained. This prevented the propagation of offspring, which had serious consequences for the peregrine falcon in particular. During this time, the survival of the species was secured by falconers who reintroduced their captive bred birds into the wild, ensuring that we can still observe the fastest animal on earth in its natural environment today.


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