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Inside Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Woodland Refuge

Inside Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Woodland Refuge

This summer, my daughter met a bird and fell in love with it because they shared a name.

This bond she formed with a peregrine falcon at the new Raptor Woodland Refuge surely means we’ll be visiting Fontenelle Forest more frequently now.

The entrance to Fontenelle Forest's Raptor Woodland Refuge in Bellevue, Neb.
The entrance to Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Woodland Refuge in Bellevue, Neb.

The refuge opened this summer.  Have you been? I was invited by Fontenelle Forest to check out the refuge when it first opened. It’s a spectacular addition to the great Omaha metro educational offerings for families.

What’s at the Raptor Woodland Refuge

Inside the Raptor Woodland Refuge at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska
There are 12 houses for birds of prey at the Raptor Woodland Refuge.

This beautifully designed area is an incredible new home to the birds the organization has rescued. It appeals to kids, I think, because it resembles a treehouse almost. It’s 30 feet above the forest floor.

The two bridges to cross to add to the treehouse appeal.

Bridges at Raptor Woodland Refuge at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska
There are two bridges inside the raptor refuge, helping create a treehouse feel to it.

The refuge houses 12 species of rescued birds of prey, including owls, hawks and falcons. The refuge just recently added a bald eagle, too. Since these birds can no longer survive in the wild, they have a home at the refuge and provide educational experiences to visitors.

The species on display have their own home, so there are 12 structures to see there. Each one has information about the birds, including where it was rescued and other interesting facts.

The view from below of the Raptor Woodland Refuge at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska
The view of the refuge from the forest below.

When we were there, volunteers were on hand to answer questions.

About Fontenelle Forest

Fontenelle Forest is a wonderful gem not far from downtown Omaha. I’ve visited with the kids in different seasons, making each visit feel new. There are very short and manageable trails for families, including the accessible boardwalk, as well as more adventurous undertakings. This place is one of our favorite hiking spots near Omaha!

Kids play area at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska
One area of Acorn Acres has some climbing structures. Elsewhere, kids can play with musical instruments, build a fort, or play around (or in) a water feature.

If you’re visiting with small children, definitely make time to visit Acorn Acres, a 1-acre natural play area where children can explore, climb, make music, and build structures.

Also, don’t skip the visitor’s center. You’ll find a few animals on display on ground level.

Visitor's Center at Fontenelle Forest in Nebraska
Different animals native to Nebraska are on display at the visitor’s center.

We often encounter volunteers inside who bring out different birds to educate visitors.

Fontenelle Forest's Raptor Recovery worker with a bird
Kids can ask questions and view rescued birds up close at Fontenelle Forest.

Head downstairs, as well, to check out kid-friendly displays, puppets and costumes, plus my kids’ favorite thing – a playground. No matter how tired they are from a hike, my kids always insist on playing down there before we leave.

Indoor playground at the visitor's center at Fontenelle Forest in Nebraska
The playground in the basement of the visitor’s center at Fontenelle Forest.

If you go

Fontenelle Forest

Where: 1111 Bellevue Blvd. North, Bellevue, Neb.

When: Fontenelle Forest is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. The Raptor Woodland Refuge is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on holidays. Trails are open dawn to dusk for members (with a Keyless Access FOB) and visitors entering before nature center closes.

Cost: $11, adults; $10, seniors (62+); $8, children/students (2-17); and FREE for members and children younger than 2


Guide to the Raptor Woodland Refuge at Fontenelle Forest in eastern Nebraska #Bellevue #Nebraska #forest

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