By Millicent Arko
January 2, 2012 (Ramona) – The Ramona Grasslands and Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) invites the public to visit and view wintering and resident birds of prey. Programs begin promptly at 9 a.m. and end at noon every Saturday in January. This free event is held at the WRI headquarters at 18030 Highland Valley Road near the intersection of Rangeland and Highland Roads in Ramona.
Guests will see raptors such as the Golden Eagle, the wintering Ferruginous Hawk, the Red-tailed Hawk, Prairie Falcon and the Red-shouldered Hawk. Nineteen species of raptors alone have been recorded at this raptor hotspot.
Guests may bring binoculars and cameras, and spotting scopes will be available. Warm, layered clothing and sturdy shoes are recommended. The facility is handicapped accessible.
Biologists from the institute will discuss the histories of these wild raptors and the significance of the Ramona Grasslands ecosystem to their survival.
They will also demonstrate hawk banding and tracking eagles with transmitters.
According to the County, over two-thirds of what was once an extensive grassland ecosystem in Santa Maria Valley has been lost to development. Golden eagles are primarily a grasslands species and have fallen from a recorded 104 pairs in the late 1800s to about 46 breeding pairs in 2008, according to WRI, “primarily due to lost habitat which were grasslands or combinations of grasslands and other open plant communities.”
Several parcels were acquired to create the Ramona Grasslands Preserve. Among them were the 419-acre Cagney Ranch, owned by brother William of the actor James Cagney; the 1,231-acre Eagle Davis Ranch; and the 1,400-acre Gildred Ranch. The preserve now counts 3,521 acres.
The preserve has also proved valuable for archaeological evidence, including rare finds of entire Kumeyaay villages dating back thousands of years before the arrival of the Spanish and providing examples of crack rock architecture.
The Wildlife Research Institute is an established public, non-profit, 501(c) (3), charitable organization, formed to conduct research, education, and management of wildlife and wildlife habitat. WRI promotes timely conservation biology through cooperative programs with private citizens, agencies, industry and academia.
From the south & west, Take Highway 67 to Ramona and turn north (left turn) on Highland Valley Road for 2 miles and look for our sign, Wildlife Research Institute, Inc. on the right, 18030 Highland Valley Road.
From the north, take Highway 78 to Ramona Main Street (Hwy 67) turn right, proceed 3 miles to Highland Valley Road turn north (right turn) for 2 miles and look for our sign, Wildlife Research Institute, Inc., 18030 Highland Valley Road.
Wildlife Research Institute
18030 Highland Valley Road
Ramona, California 92065