Category: Nature Education & Conservation

Ranger anticipates spring completion of aviary for rehabilitated birds of prey

Four rehabilitated Tennessee native birds of prey reside at Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, Tenn., and participate in public programs with Monica Johnson and Mark Houston, the park rangers who care for them.

However, barred owls McKenzie and Pigpen; Trillium, an eastern screech owl; and Henson, a red-tailed hawk, will take up residence in more natural habitats in the spring.

Johnson said that she expects that the park staff will move them to the new aviary located near the visitor center by the end of May.

Last autumn, more than 20 volunteers framed and added dividing walls to the aviary over two weekends.

Retired carpenter Ray Towers and his wife traveled from Red Bank, Tenn., with other family members to help with this project.

He said, “My wife and I came up for the summer. We wanted to ride the paddleboards. Never had. My wife saw [fundraising information for the aviary], and she says, ‘Let’s go up there and help them build that thing.’ I said O.K. and that’s what we did.

“One of my sons is [at the campground] with his sons and the scouts, and some of the scouts are coming up to help me in a little while.”

Johnson said that the park manager Chip Hillis has been pleased with anticipated draw of visitors to the park with the completion of the aviary. She added, “He’s been very excited about how it’s coming along – the look of it. He loves the look and the shape. The picture of the finished product – he’s all about.”

As the weather improves in the coming months, Johnson will schedule more workdays to complete the aviary. Volunteers may find this information posted on the park’s website. Those who wish to make donations towards the construction of this structure or to the up keep of the birds can mail donations to the Birds of Prey Program at Cumberland Mountain State Park, 24 Office Dr., Crossville, TN 38555.

For more information, call Ranger Monica Johnson at (931) 484-6138 or email her at