Effie Yeaw Nature Center
A Community Service of the
American River Natural History Association

Reptiles and Amphibians

We have six snakes:

  • three Gopher snakes, Dragonette, Fred and Jasper;
  • two Kingsnakes, Eddy and Bullseye; and
  • one Western Aquatic Garter Snake, Sprite.  


Finally, we have three pond animals:  

  • Clem, a Western Pond Turtle, and
  • Speckles and Spartacus, Tiger Salamanders.
Tanner, the Red-tailed Hawk
The Effie Yeaw Nature Center takes care of more than a dozen non-releasable animals native to the American River system. These animals cannot be returned to their native habitat.  In many cases they have been injured, orphaned or grown too accustomed to people.

We have five birds:

  • a Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sophia,
  • a Great Horned Owl, Echo
  • a Red-tailed Hawk, Tanner,
  • a Red-shouldered Hawk, Skye, and
  • an American Kestrel, Rocky. 

All these birds are tamed to the glove and act as animal ambassadors, visiting schools, taking part in programs and helping in our educational efforts.

In addition, we have numerous reptiles and amphibians, which are on display in the lobby and the Discovery Room. These include a Western Pond Turtle, Clem; a Skink, Gilbert; a Western Fence Lizard, Blue; a Rattlesnake and several Gopher and King Snakes, Tree Frogs, and Toads.
Although we house resident animals, the Nature Center is NOT a licensed animal rescue facility and we cannot accept animals needing care. If you find an injured animal, we are willing to help you find the right rehabilitation organization – please call us during our business hours: 916-489-4918.

Sophia, the Northern Saw-whet Owl
Echo, the Great Horned Owl

Tanner, the Red-tailed Hawk

Skye, the Red-shouldered Hawk

Rocky, the American Kestrel

Clem, the Western Pond Turtle

Sophia was living life in the wild until the fall of 2007, when she was hit by a truck. The truck driver got out and was shocked to find the little owl on the front of his truck!  He managed to get the bird disentangled from the metal and took her to the California Foundation for Birds of Prey. The raptor specialists got the little owl healed up as well as possible, but the vet did not think that she would be able to fly and hunt well enough to survive in the wild. She came to live at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in July of 2008. Sophia is a very placid bird who surprises visitors with her tiny size, beautiful markings and bright gold eyes.

Echo was found during the fall of 2011 in the South Lake Tahoe area making begging calls in the night. A volunteer rehabilitator heard the bird and called to it. Echo flew right down to the rehabilitator and readily ate the food that was offered. This behavior unfortunately meant that Echo was imprinted or raised by humans as a young owl and did not know how to hunt for food. The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care contacted the Effie Yeaw Nature Center about Echo and we were happy to take her. Echo is calm around people and has been trained for careful handling by Nature Center staff and an important role as a full-fledged educational ambassador.
Tanner came to the Nature Center from the California Raptor Center in March of 1998. This makes him the “senior” raptor, having lived here the longest and quite possibly the oldest in age. He was brought to the Raptor Center when he was less than one year old with a broken humerus and shoulder injury. Because of these injuries, Tanner's flying was permanently impaired, making him non-releasable. In 2005, Tanner was the subject of a study by a graduate student from California State University, Sacramento. He has become a truly valuable educational bird, going on educational outreach programs with our Naturalists. He is a very patient hawk and has helped train several of our staff and volunteers on raptor handling.
Skye came to the Nature Center in June of 2006, after being treated by a veterinarian/rehabilitator. He was dropped off by someone who found him with serious head injuries, probably due to falling from the nest. Skye was only about 4 weeks old at the time. After being treated he was deemed non-releasable due to permanent retinal damage to his left eye. This would affect his depth perception, making him unable to hunt effectively. Despite his injuries, he is a very active and vocal bird. He greets his handlers with a good morning call of “keer ,keer, keer” that is typical of the red-shouldered hawks.
Rocky hatched in Lincoln during the spring of 2002 and apparently fell from his nest while he was still too young to even recognize a cricket or mouse, favorite foods of wild kestrels. He was brought to the California Foundation for Birds of Prey, where the veterinarian checked Rocky and found that he had an injured shoulder. He was placed with a falconer for rehabilitation and later transferred to the Nature Center to become an educational bird. Rocky is an inquisitive bird that really likes to be around people. He responds with head bobs and sidesteps when spoken to or when music is played.

Clem came to us as an egg! In June of 2007, seven turtle eggs were brought to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center by a volunteer from Sacramento County Animal Care. The eggs were reported to be western pond turtle eggs, laid by a turtle that had since been released. On Friday, September 28, two hatchlings were discovered in our makeshift incubator! In later weeks, two more turtles hatched. The Nature Center did not have room to house 5 pond turtles, so four turtles were taken to the U.C. Davis Department of Herpetology where they are being housed with other turtles and will provide students with the opportunity to observe and document their growth, health and behavior. The remaining turtle was named Clem and he stayed here at the Nature Center.

Through our "Adopt an Animal" program you can help us provide for their care, food, vitamins, vet visits and medicine.

To adopt, download the brochure, complete the form and mail in your contribution.
Or complete the online form below

Your adoption is a sponsorship donation that will be used to help provide food and care for the animals on exhibit at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

Adoption Levels:

For your $25 donation you will receive a Nature Center car decal, a photo and history of your animal, natural history of the species and an adoption certificate.

For your $50 donation you will receive all of the benefits above, plus a Nature Center finger puppet.

For your $100 donation you will receive all of the benefits above, plus the ARNHA publication "The Outdoor World".

For your $250 donation you will receive all of the benefits above, plus a framed personal photo with you and your adopted animal.

To complete the form below, choose your adoption level from the first drop-down menu, and your kind of animal from the second one.  If you have one special animal in mind, fill in its name in the first text box and, in the second one,  let us know the name of the adopter as you would like it to appear on the adoption certificate. Then click on Add to Cart and you will be taken to a secure payment site where you can use a credit card or Paypal.
Adoption Levels
Adoption Choices
Animal Name (Optional)
Name of Person Adopting

Natoma, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Natoma was about a year old when she came to us in March of 2012. Her mother had been badly beaten with a stick and rescued by an animal facility in Valley Springs. Shortly after being rescued the mother gave birth to Natoma and her siblings. Rattlesnakes are one of the few snakes that give live birth. Because she was born in captivity, it would be illegal to release Natoma into the wild according to Fish and Wildlife regulations. She has become a great educational snake as she is kept in the lobby in a specially secured enclosure for all to see and can be compared to the native non-venomous snakes in nearby enclosures. Natoma was recently weighed and measured and she was found to be our heaviest, if not the longest, snake on our premises. She enjoys the mouse that she is fed once a week.
"A bird never doubts its place at the center of the universe."-- Barbara Kingsolver  (Prodigal Summer)    


Luna, the Barn Owl, having spent the last 14 years educating and touching the lives of so many, passed away on June 29, 2011. Over the years, if not the center of the universe, Luna was certainly the center of attention during many presentations both at the Nature Center and in the classroom.  


Taken to the California Raptor Center in 1997 it was thought Luna had fallen from the nest and that she might have some brain damage. She would not eat and ultimately had to be force-fed to keep her alive. Efforts to rehabilitate her failed. Having such close contact with humans Luna became imprinted on them and, consequently, could not be released back into the wild. Luna came to the Nature Center at only a few months old and throughout the years she helped teach the public the important role that barn owls play in our environment.   A stealth hunter, barn owls primarily use their acute sense of hearing to detect and capture their prey, mainly rodents. Unfortunately, in the wild, a large percentage of barn owls do not make it through their first year! We were lucky to have Luna in our lives for 14 years. We will miss her very much!