Bonnie Cleaver, Education Avian Coordinator

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“I’ve been captivated by the magic of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program ever since my first visit to one of their open houses. There are no words to express the feeling that comes from seeing a bird go from the brink of death to flying free in the wild once more, or the awe-struck look on a child’s face when they see a live owl up close for the first time.

“Every day I get to work with some of the most amazing people in the world, who have so much room in their hearts for these birds. I hope to help others see the wild beauty and importance of raptors, as well as inspire them to learn more about these amazing creatures.”

Bonnie Cleaver

Bonnie was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has always had a passion for art and nature. Growing up, she loved spending time in the beautiful mountains with her family, camping, hiking, and watching for critters along the trails. Her love of birds was kindled early on by her first pet budgerigar, Buzzie. She spent countless hours drawing or painting pictures of birds and often doodled them in the margins of her schoolwork.

Bonnie has been an avid volunteer for years. She was a member of the National Charity League through middle school and high school and spent several summers participating in the Teen Zoo Crew volunteer program at the Denver Zoo. At the zoo she worked behind the scenes at the Wildlife Show, where she helped with cleaning, animal enrichment, and some animal training. Playing with the show’s raven in a toy room and helping train the African Serval remain some of her favorite memories.

In 2003 at age 12, Bonnie attended a RMRP open house with her mother and was instantly captivated by the bold, wild nature of the raptors. At the time, she was only familiar with domestic birds, such as parrots and chickens, and the opportunity to volunteer at the RMRP opened up a new outlet for her avian obsession, one which she eagerly pursued. Although very squeamish at first, Bonnie soon overcame her fears of chopping up dead rodents and watching active case raptors receive injections. She went on to complete both the rehabilitation and education training paths, where she learned how to care for the active case patients and the Educational Ambassador birds.

In 2004, Bonnie was introduced to the art of bird training by a feisty female American Kestrel. Since then, she has been a trainer for several educational birds and now works with many of the RMRP’s “Special Handling” educational birds. Her years of experience at the RMRP, leadership skills, dedication, and attention to detail paid off in 2011 when she was asked to become a staff member. Since that time Bonnie has helped to oversee the health and well being of the RMRP permanently disabled ambassadors.  Skilled at  understanding what the birds need to be healthy and as content as possible, she helps to train them, train the people that work with them, and provide their continual care. In October 2017 Bonnie was invited to become our first ever Educational Avian Coordinator.  She hopes to inspire people of all ages and walks of life to see the wild beauty of raptors and their important role in nature.

In her free time Bonnie enjoys training her cat Orion, drawing, designing, cooking, going out to dinner with her RMRP friends, archery, photography, reading bird-related books, and watching zombie/horror films. She also loves teaching herself how to do a wide variety of eclectic new things.

  • 2008 Nine News Kids Who Care Award
  • Colorado Jaycees Outstanding Young Coloradoan Award
  • Three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold)

Contact Bonnie