Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Read About a Four-Ounce Bird Who Has Already Traveled The Distance From the Earth to the Moon

You read the title of this blog post correctly - we'd like to share the story of a shorebird called a red knot, who has made 21 migration trips in his lifetime.  He's nicknamed "Moonbird" because he has already flown the equivalent distance between the Earth and the moon, and more than halfway back during his epic migrations. His route from the tip of South America to the top of Canada takes him through Delaware Bay, where his leg band is identified.

Read this amazing story here

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Guest Blogger Tuesday - TRC Volunteer Gives So Much

Jim returning a great horned owlet to a nest site.

We continue our Guest Blogger series with one of our treasured volunteers.  Jim J. started on our transport crew, then added carpentry, and more recently, rescue.  Our volunteers build some very exceptional skills as they work with raptors in their respective areas (transport, clinic, rescue, flight, etc.)  Jim has also become a wonderful educational voice about raptors when he responds to transport and rescue calls.

Jim graciously agreed to write about his personal evolution in his experiences.  More raptors than we can count have Jim to thank for their second chances at life.  We are so proud to share unique contributions and ways that one person truly makes a difference with Jim’s story.

 “At TRC I’ve been witness to many incredible turn-arounds. Broken, poisoned or sick birds with no chance of survival flying again free.  It is of no wonder to me why passion and dedication run deep in so many, volunteer and staff alike. So many new experiences have happened at TRC for me, being able help an injured bird or even building a hutch (bird house) for an eagle. One can truly question if one has ever built a bird house till one builds one for an eagle! I, like everyone hate to see a raptor in need, and also like everyone, understand there will always be birds needing help. With that said, I’m proud as with everyone else to be able help where and when I can.  

Being prepared for a rescue is the culmination of every past rescue. Species, age, condition of the animal and even location are all factors that affect what I take. With the number and diversity of birds I’ve been lucky enough to work with, my vehicle and its contents have morphed over time to reflect my experiences. Gassed and packed at all times with about 90% of the items and tools that have come in handy during previous calls, it requires little effort to respond quickly.  I keep an area in the garage dedicated to the other 10%. For instance a baby great horned owl on the ground might require a new nest. Because of the foresight of some at TRC, I have a replacement nest in my garage. An eagle will need “the big cage”.

On site, questions get answers. Is it a baby? Are there any injuries readily apparent? Can the animal see? Is it interested in my approach? Is it standing? How long has it been on the ground? I usually get most questions answered from the people who called in. I have found people greatly concerned for the welfare of the birds I’ve been called to rescue. The first call I ever responded to was a red-tailed hawk with a broken wing, called in by two landscapers, whose concern was both genuine and heartfelt. Driving to TRC from that call I thought to myself; “this is a good thing happening here, something everyone can rally around”. I’m seldom disappointed with anyone’s reaction to an animal in need and willingness to help in any way."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Top 40 Things You Can Do to Help Raptors - 21-30

In honor of our 40th anniversary, we'd like to share 40 things you can do to help raptors.  Our first 10 are in our Spring Raptor Release newsletter, which you can download here.
We posted 11-20 here.

The next 21-30 are here:

21. Build or purchase bird houses. Cavity-nesting species like American kestrels will thank you for it!

22. Wash your clothes in cold or warm but not hot. And only launder when you have a full load.

23. Drink water from the tap. Bring your own re-usable water bottle instead of buying/using the plastic water bottles you throw away (or recycle).

24. Plant native trees! Plant native bushes! These are important for cover and food for both migrating and nesting birds.

25. Buy second hand from a second hand store or garage/yard sale. Donate used items instead of throwing them away.

26. Adjust your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer.

27. Reduce or eliminate pesticide and herbicide use. Using fewer chemicals in your yard and home helps keep wildlife, pets and people healthy.

28. Drink "bird friendly" coffee and invest in your own coffee cup that you bring to the coffee shop.

29. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. The bright lights of nighttime city skylines confuse and disorient migrating birds that need to see the stars to follow their migration routes. Many cities now participate in "Lights Out" programs to remove that obstacle during peak migration periods.

30. Use re-usable bags to the stores. Cut down on the amount of plastic bags you use.

All of the 40 things listed can help the conservation of raptors and the world we share. How you ask? Saving energy leaves more resources for the future and cuts down on pollution. Conserving water is the same thing and we all need water. And, keeping the water clean (instead of cleaning it up) is something we all can get behind. Making space for wildlife by planting native plants creates habitat for many of the local wild neighbors---which also creates habitat for your local raptors. And learning about raptors and the world around us helps to make us critical thinkers. We need to ask good questions and the answers are not always simple. Help The Raptor Center soar for another 40 years. Better yet, help raptors soar toward a better future for them AND us by being thoughtful about your everyday choices.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Amazing Story from the Bird World - Six Day, 3,300-Mile Nonstop Flight

We love sharing not only the amazing stories about people, but also those about birds.  This one is not about a raptor; it is a shorebird called a semipalmated sandpiper. 
Example of semipalmated plover.

In an effort to understand migration patterns, and therefore what is important to this species as it travels, a geolocator was placed on the bird.  The geolocators weigh only two hundredths of an ounce and are equipped with light sensors that use day length and the time of day to track each bird’s migration.

What did they find? One bird flew a total distance of over 10,000 miles in the past year, including a remarkable six day, 3,300-mile nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Read the article here.  Here are some highlights from the journey:

Highlights from the Geotagged Semipalmated Sandpiper's Journey: 

23 June, 2013: The geolocator is placed on the bird by Brad Winn, a member of a Manomet and Environment Canada shorebird science research team, at Coats Island, Nunavut, Canada.

21 July, 2013: Arrives in James Bay, where it fattens up for its upcoming long flight to South America.

22 August, 2013: Leaves James Bay for a six day nonstop flight to South America.

28 August, 2013:  Arrives at the Orinoco Delta, on the border of Venezuela and Guyana.

10 September, 2013:  Leaves for a relatively leisurely 11 day flight along the coast to Brazil.

21 September, 2013:  Arrives in Brazil for the winter (northern winter, but summer in Brazil).

3 May, 2014:  Leaves Brazil for a series of flights north, including stops in Cuba (May 6), Florida (May 10), Georgia (May 11), North Carolina (May 14), and Delaware Bay (May 21).

2 June, 2014: Arrives back in James Bay for the last stopover on its return journey.

10 June, 2014: Leaves James Bay for the final leg of its return journey.

11 June, 2014:  Arrives back at its Coats Island breeding site.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Guest Blogger Tuesday - The Next Generation of Teachers

We continue our Guest Blogger Tuesday with a young lady who has impressed us so much with her enthusiasm and dedication.  Spencer, like our previous blogger, Ben, began her journey to learn about raptors at a very young age.  She demonstrated her desire to teach and learn by inviting friends and family to her Hatchday parties at TRC, and by being a part of our youth service-learning group, Youth RaptorCorp.   Spencer, like Ben, is one person truly making a difference for raptors.

The Raptor Center is sure that with the future of our shared world in the hands of young people like these, it is a very bright one indeed. 

Spencer’s story: An Early Love of Raptors
I first came to TRC when I was 2. My mom and I went bird watching all the time and we would go out in the woods and call for owls at dusk. One day my mom decided to bring me to TRC I remember looking at Leuc, the bald eagle, and thinking how big he was compared to me. I didn't go back for a long time but when I was 9 I wanted to have a “Hatch Day party” there. I ended up having 3.

Next Steps: Youth RaptorCorp
I found that I really liked raptors and signed up for the Youth RaptorCorps. The more I learned about these amazing birds the more I wanted to be around them. The YRC volunteered at the Spring Raptor Release event for years showing people bio-facts (raptor feathers, skulls, talons, wings, pellets, etc) and I learned something new about them each year. Did you know that the owls have a toe, called a hallux, that can swivel around to face front or back?  We also learned about different things that can hurt raptors like DDT and lead poisoning.    After being in YRC for 4 years I was asked to help with the instructing part of the class and I was overjoyed to do it. I am learning just as much 

New Loves
It was in Youth RaptorCorps that I learned about falconry. The definition of falconry is the sport of hunting with a bird of prey. I looked into it and joined the Minnesota falconry association. As it is I am in the process of getting my apprentice license. What I learned at The Raptor Center is coming in very handy with that. I already know what a raptor needs to survive and some of the things that could hurt it. I also want to put this knowledge to use by educating the people in my school and community. I have already written a few articles for my school newspaper and done a speech on raptor related things. I also wrote a letter to my local park Board regarding the health of a pair of owls.

Going Forward
I am so excited to continue with my education with raptors. TRC has provided me the opportunity to learn so much more then I would normally be able to learn. They have saved so many birds that would have died otherwise. I think they are doing a great job and should keep up what they are doing now.