Working with Tribes
Southwest Region
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Eagle Aviaries

Tribal Eagle Aviaries

In order to provide assistance to Federally Recognized Tribes within the United States, in accordance with 50 CFR 22, the ability to possess for religious use, live non-releasable eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Southwest Region, Migratory Bird Permit Office implemented the Native American Eagle Aviary Permit. Eagles housed in the aviaries are birds rescued from the wild because of sickness or injury and treated by wildlife rehabilitators, but the nature or severity of injuries prevent the birds from being returned to the wild. These eagles are then cared for, for the remainder of their lives at the aviary. Through the permitted aviary, Native Americans have an additional source of eagle feathers (through molting) for the cultural and religious needs. Access more information on the the Native American Eagle Aviary Permit. (

Today there are seven permitted Tribal Eagle aviaries within the Service’s Southwest Region. Read about each of these aviaries:

New Mexico

Zuni Aviary
Zuni Pueblo eagle aviary with both bald and golden eagles. Photo credit: Joe Early, USFWS.

The Pueblo of Zuni, in 1990, was the first Tribe in the Nation to propose plans for a sanctuary to house non-releasable eagles for cultural and religious use. Located on the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico, the Pueblo of Zuni began preparation to construct the sanctuary with the aid of many volunteers from the Tribe. They re-opened an old saw mill, cut pine trees, gathered flag stone and built an aviary. Currently the aviary houses 12 bald eagles and 15 golden eagles.  Learn more about the Zuni Eagle Sanctuary )

The Pueblo of Jemez, located in the Jemez Reservation, was the second Tribe in New Mexico to receive an Eagle Aviary - Live permit. The Pueblo has two satellite aviaries, each housing one golden eagle. Each satellite caretaker is a member of an Eagle Watching Society. Learn more about the Pueblo of Jemez. (


Iowa Tribe Eagle Aviary
Iowa Tribe of OK flight cage, Perkins, OK. Photo credit: USFWS.

The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, in December 2005, received the first Eagle Aviary - Live permit in Oklahoma and a Tribal Wildlife Grant (TWG) for construction of an aviary. In partnership with the Zuni Pueblo, the Iowa Tribe’s eagle aviary was established.  After recent expansions to the aviary, the Iowa Tribe’s aviary now houses 29 bald eagles and 8 golden eagles. The birds are cared for by an aviary manager, six staff members and a number of volunteers. The aviary manager, an Iowa tribal elder and Vietnam veteran, is authorized by the Service to rehabilitate sick or injured eagles. The Iowa Tribe has successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild twelve bald eagles. One was released at the Sequoia National Wildlife Refuge.  Internationally-known, the Iowa Tribe opens the doors of their facility to more than 10,000 visitors from around the world annually. 

Learn more about the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma’s Grey Snow Eagle House. ( )

The Comanche Nation of Oklahoma received the second Tribal Eagle Aviary permit in Oklahoma in 2009, and currently houses 8 bald eagles and 9 golden eagles.  The aviary manager holds a Doctorate from Cornell University and has more than 50 years of experience.  Learn more about the Comanche Nation’s Eagle Spirit. ( )

Visit Sia, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative’s website to learn about the non-eagle feather repository.  ( )

Citizen Potawatami Nation eagle Aviary
Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Eagle Aviary, Shawnee, OK. Photo credit: Joe Early, USFWS.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma, also a recipient of a TWG, established the third Oklahoma eagle aviary in 2012.  The Citizen Potawatomi eagle aviary is managed by Tribal members and houses 1 golden eagle and 14 bald eagles. Learn more about the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s  Eagle Aviary. )







The Navajo Nation, located in Window Rock, Arizona in Northern Arizona, established their aviary on the Navajo reservation in 2011. The aviary houses four golden eagles.  In 2013 the Nation was awarded a $200,000 TWG to expand the Navajo Nation’s Zoo. This will enable the Nation to add an additional aviary to house more than 20 injured eagles. 

Learn more about the Navajo Nation Zoo.  ( )

Read the Navajo Nation Eagle Feather Distribution Policy ( )

The San Carlos Apache Tribe located in Southern Arizona - received a $200,000 TWG to design and build an eagle aviary.  The Southwest Region is currently working with the Tribe to obtain a Native American Eagle Aviary permit and to eventually acquire non-releasable eagles, once their aviary is built.  Learn more about the San Carlos Apache Tribe and their Recreation and Wildlife Department. )

Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region’s website (Working With Tribes) to learn more. )

Young Golden Eagle
Young Golden Eagle.
DOJ Memo on the Possession or Use of Feathers or Other Parts of Federally Protected Birds for Tribal Cultural and Religious Purposes
USFWS Office of Law Enforcement Fact Sheet of the Possession of Eagle Feathers
National Eagle Repository website
USFWS Southwest Region Non-Eagle Feather Repository program
Molted Golden eagle feathers
Naturally molted Golden eagle feathers. Photo credit: USFWS.
molted blad eagle feathers
Naturally molted Bald eagle feathers. Photo credit:USFWS.
Iowa Tribe Eagle Aviary
Citizen Potawatomi Eagle Aviary
Aviary Archive Articles
Last updated: April 13, 2021