Wednesday, April 23, 2014

First Baby Raptor of the Season!

Great horned owlets are typically the first raptor babies seen in TRC’s clinic every spring.  Great horned owls do not build their own nests; instead, they use an old squirrel or hawk nest from the previous year, or nest in a tree cavity.  If they choose the former, they move right in without stabilizing the structure in any way.

Most often, these nests are fairly worn from winter abuse and easily fall apart with the help of spring storms and the weight and activity of growing youngsters.
Great horned owlet on the ground.

 Recently, Jim Johnston, one of TRC’s rescue/transport volunteers, responded to a call regarding a 1.5 week old owlet found at the base of its nest tree.  It was the only survivor from a 70’ fall, but appeared uninjured.  Jim built a new nest structure and placed it about 15’ up in the nest tree.  The female returned a short time later to “resume” brooding and caring for her little one as if nothing happened.  Thanks to the quick call from the public and one of our dedicated and skilled volunteers, we were able to keep this raptor family together.

New great horned owl nest.
Great horned owlet in its new nest.
The time for humans to help raptors in this upcoming baby season may come when young raptors run into trouble once they leave the confines of their nest and enter our living space.  Nests are blown down, fall apart, and sometimes nest trees are cut down.  Every case is different and the extent of help a youngster may need depends on many factors including the species and age.  If you find a young raptor that you think might need a little assistance, please call The Raptor Center (612-624-4745) or check our website for advice before taking an action.  The greatest chance young raptors have for survival in the wild is when they are raised naturally by their parents, not people. 

Thank you to Jim for sharing these photos with us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!  The Raptor Center supports education about wildlife, humans and the world we all share year round.  However, today is a great time to recognize how we all can do small things to help make a difference.

Our Recycling for Raptors program, has helped recycle approximately 170,000 ink jet cartridges since the program began  in September 2003.  The program continues to grow throughout the state, as we add more partnerships each month.  Visit our website to learn where you can drop off your cartridges to help our program. 

Our Youth Raptor Corp volunteer service program is nearing the end of the 2013-2014 season.  We are so proud of these young people, who choose to learn about raptors and the environment, and what they can do to positively affect them. We wanted to share a note from Sam, who is in the 5th grade.  Sam mentioned learning about DDT, and how it affected peregrine falcons and bald eagles.  The group worked on building nest boxes for American kestrels, a small falcon.  This species is one that The Raptor Center is collecting information on through our citizen science initiative called Kestrel Watch.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

"DC" Snowy Owl Released

This past Saturday, Dr. Julia Ponder, TRC's executive director, released the "DC" snowy owl near Superior, WI.  This spot was chosen by a biologist since it was frequented by other snowy owls in the past.  Individuals of this species move from breeding grounds to areas where food is more plentiful in the winter, even during non-irruptive years. The habitat will support the bird until he starts his journey back to his northern region.

The "imped" feathers (replacement feathers for the bird's singed ones) from a procedure done in TRC's clinic helped power his strong flight.

We thank all of you for your support and interest.  This patient is an example of the more than 900 sick and injured raptors we treated last year in our clinic.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Former Red-tailed Hawk Patient Has Many to Thank

You might recall a story we did in January about a young red-tailed hawk.  It was reported to be unable to fly along the shore of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul. The poor hawk’s feathers were frozen together, preventing him from flying. For some unknown reason, the bird took a dip in the icy cold river on a subzero day. 

 A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer, and Station 6 of the Saint Paul Fire Department, partnered to rescue this bird.  Upon admission to TRC's clinic, the hawk was diagnosed as hypothermic, with signs of frostbite on its left foot. 

We are happy to report that the bird was released recently by a member of Station 6. We thank all of the municipal, state, federal and other agencies who help coordinate rescues and transport of raptors to our clinic every day.  And of course, several of our TRC volunteers must be thanked as they helped with the release and took these photos to share with you. 

The Raptor Center is grateful to all of our partners and friends who play roles in the conservation of raptors.  Will you consider a gift to help us continue to care for sick and injured raptors, and educate the public on what they can do?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tribute to Leuc the Bald Eagle - A True Ambassador

Over the years, many of you have had the chance to "meet" our winged ambassador Leuc the bald eagle.  He was the first to "greet" any visitors who came to our location on the St Paul campus. 

It is with heavy heart that we let you know Leuc passed away very quietly and unexpectedly this week.  Veterinary staff was present and efforts to revive him were started immediately. Preliminary necropsy results indicate a ruptured aneurysm. 

TRC volunteer Neil Ross wrote this tribute to a true ambassador.  Leuc was the face of TRC for many years.  He will be remembered as an important part of TRC's history, for all that he did to further the understanding of his wild eagle cousins.