Kate Davis began life with a love of animals and by junior high school in 1973, she was caring for mammals and raptors with the Cincinnati Zoo Junior Zoologists Club. She provided educational programs at the zoo and in the community, as well as illustrating their publications and doing taxidermy work. Her father had a great interest in photography, tutoring Kate with a darkroom in the basement all of her childhood.
After locating in Missoula, Montana in 1978, Kate received a degree in Zoology from the University of Montana in 1982. She founded the non-profit education organization Raptors of the Rockies in 1988, and keeps a dozen non- releasable and falconry birds at the facility at her home on the banks of the Bitterroot River of Western Montana. Formal programs with these raptors number more than 1880 for 140,000 people, young and old alike including 137 schools in Montana and Idaho. Kate also “appears” on Montana Public Radio every several months with raptors as guests, and performed a TEDx Talk in 2015 with the Great Horned Owl, Jillian. She has also presented her lively PowerPoint programs across the country from Boston to Seattle, with Chicago, Salt Lake City and Detroit in between. Her highlight was an April speaking engagement at the Cincinnati Zoo where she began this avian life “Fifty Years as a Junior Zoologist.” The Teaching Team raptors are the subjects and source of inspiration for her photography, drawings, paintings, etchings, welded steel sculptures, and writing.
Kate’s first book came out in 2001, aptly titled “Raptor of the Rockies” and was geared toward younger audiences. For her second book “Falcons of North America,” she teamed up with award-winning photographers Rob Palmer and Nick Dunlop. Two years in the making, this volume is a mixture of science and stunning images.
She again collaborated with Rob and Nick for “Raptors of the West”- 250 pages, 430 photos, and 45 species of birds of prey from Burrowing Owls to Golden Eagles, all divided into the habitats in which they may be found. Raptors of the West won the National Outdoor Book Award for Design and Artistic Merit, and grand prize for the Montana Book Award 2011. There three photographers are now collaboration on a Second Edition out in mid-2024.
Her fourth book, “Bald Eagle Nest: A story of survival in photos,” has 135 of her images of a Bald Eagle nest that fledged four young. The next book, “American Kestrel:Pint-sized Predator” came out in 2014 with more than 100 photographs again with Rob Palmer, because “Everyone loves a kestrel!”
Book six came out in 2016 – “Birds Are People, Too” a different slant on birds and photography, humor with 120 bird action shots of 62 species so not just raptors this time. “It’s a riot!”
“Falcons of North America Second Edition” is out now! 13 years of new science and more than 260 photographs from Rob, Nick and Kate, with 160 new action images. The descriptive word that has come up over and over again is “WOW!” Signed copies from Kate!
Kate was presented the greatest of honors in 2017 – the Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award, only periodically given in Montana. Kate also won the Presidents Award from the Raptor Research Foundation in 2021. The Biggie – a speaking engagement at the Cincinnati Zoo in April 2023, “Fifty Years as a Junior Zoologist,” to the month, and where it all started. She and raptors are celebrating their 37th year of education, no retirement in sight.
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