Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Raptor Center Clinic Patient Census April 20, 2015

A bald eagle patient.

We have received 146 wild patients so far in 2015.  We currently have 53 patients.  Some are in individual patient cages while their injuries heal.  Others are in large flight rooms or in managed areas for exercise before their release.  We post our clinic census weekly on our website here. 

The following table shows the patient census by species:

The Raptor Center
Current Patient Census
(as of April 20, 2015) 
            Bald Eagle
            Golden Eagle
Hawks - Buteos
            Red-tailed Hawk
            Broad-winged Hawk
Hawks - Accipiters
            Cooper's Hawk

            American Kestrel

           Great Horned Owl
           Northern Saw-whet Owl
           Barred Owl
           Long-eared Owl

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Celebrate Earth Day with Some Great Resources

Female Eastern bluebird.

Male Eastern bluebird.
Earth Day is a great opportunity to learn more about the world you share with wildlife!  What helps them be healthy is also good for humans.

The National Wildlife Federation has a great set of links and resources for how to make your own backyard (or school!) be a wildlife friendly habitat.  (It might be easier than you think!)

A healthy plant means clean water.  Project Wet has some terrific and very creative resources for all ages on how water plays a huge role in our lives.

How often do we think about the soil under our feet?  The Smithsonian Natural History Museum has a great site called Dig It! that helps us all understand the importance of this very basic building block with games and videos.

Friday, April 17, 2015

TRC Volunteer Guest Blogger: Brittany T. from Clinic

Brittany, at her summer ornithology
field class.
This is the last post in our TRC Volunteer Guest Blogger series this week, in honor of National Volunteer Week.  We hope you've enjoyed hearing from some of our treasured volunteers.  There is no one more committed or passionate than these amazing people and we are honored to get to work with them every day of the week.

Brittany T. has been on her clinic crew since 2011, and in 2012 she became part of the Education team.  

"Back in 2010 when I started my first year at the University of Minnesota, my mom came to visit for Parents Weekend. One of the activities offered that weekend was to visit The Raptor Center for a Saturday program/tour. I remember my first thought being, “Why is there a center for learning about dinosaurs on campus?” (No really, that’s how little I knew about the bird world). That first raptor program taught me so much in such a short amount of time, and since that day I can honestly say I have learned more about raptors than I ever thought possible.

The first crew I joined was in the clinic.  Most people in their lifetime are lucky to see a bald eagle or a red-tailed hawk flying high above them, or might get lucky enough to spot a great-horned owl in their backyard, or a Peregrine Falcon in downtown St. Paul. This opportunity to volunteer in the clinic has brought me face to face with the more common species of raptors as well as some that many people may never get the chance to see in the wild or captivity – from large great grey owls and osprey to very small Northern saw-whet owls and merlins. On the clinic crew, we spend the shift preparing food and feeding the approximately 800 injured raptors that come in every year. Being so close to these powerful birds is just breathtaking. Knowing that some species such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons were helped by The Raptor Center makes working with those species even more of a privilege. It is an amazing experience to feed injured raptors and be a part of an organization that works so hard to heal these spectacular birds and return them back into the wild where they belong.

I have been on that clinic crew since 2011 and my love for TRC quickly expanded into other areas. In 2012, I became a lobby assistant on an Education crew, welcoming visitors. Just one year later, I am now giving tours and learning new things every day. Back on that first tour, I was fascinated at how much that volunteer knew about raptors and how well they were able to educate the public about the world of raptors. With every tour I give I hope that I can give that same feeling of awe to someone else.

I know it sounds cheesy to say that TRC changed my life but it really did!  Thinking that TRC was a center for learning about dinosaurs probably says a lot about how little I knew of the bird world in general. My major in college was Biology, but I was more interested in mammals than birds. My clinic crew at TRC began my fascination with birds so much so that I took a field ornithology course up at Lake Itasca. I realized then that I would end up in the field of ornithology and would be working with birds for the rest of my life. Fast forward from that first day on my clinic shift to now spending my entire Saturday (every Saturday) at TRC giving tours in the education department and then immediately afterwards going to work with the wild raptors in the clinic. I am also now an Avian Nursery Coordinator at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota helping to raise and care for injured and orphaned baby birds to release them back into the wild. I can honestly say that had I not gone on that program and contacted TRC to volunteer I would not be where I am today"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TRC Volunteer Guest Blogger: Molly T from Flight Crew

Molly T with young turkey vulture.
It was a recent warm day, and the
light covering of snow seen in the
photo melted quickly!
Molly T. is a University of Minnesota student, and member of both the Education and Flight crews for TRC. She has been a volunteer since October 2013.

I recall three years ago, sitting on my bed in my room when I looked up and saw sparrows scattering away from my feeder outside as a short-winged, long-tailed figure barreled through my yard. I shot off my bed, reaching the window just in time to see an adult female Cooper’s hawk maneuvering masterfully through the woods. I grew up seeing Cooper’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles and turkey vultures flying around my area, but I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to fly birds like these myself. 

I first visited TRC when I was 15, and as a bird-crazy teenager, I was fascinated with all of the close-up views I could get of raptors that I normally saw hundreds of feet up in the air. I waited patiently until I was 18, started school at the U of M, and started volunteering on the flight crew at TRC. When I heard that there was an opening in flight, I had no idea what it was. In fact, most people who visit TRC have never heard of the flight crews. Flight crews are an essential group of volunteers who help to rehabilitate injured raptors in the clinic by giving them flight exercise. Flight is absolutely key for the survival of a raptor. Without strong flying-skills, there is no way for a raptor to hunt. In order to exercise the birds, leather straps called jesses are attached to their legs, which are then attached to a parachute rope or a fishing line (depending on the size of the bird). 

Each bird is given eight (8) outdoor flights, during which time the crew assesses their flying and records what they observed. This helps the staff in the clinic to determine whether that bird is ready to be released soon or not. 

My favorite bird that I have flown so far is an immature turkey vulture. Turkey vultures are big, smelly, ungainly birds, but when they spread out their nearly 6-foot wingspan, there is nothing much cooler!

Because each bird that comes into TRC is important, the work of every volunteer that cares for them on their various crews is a vital part of the bird’s progress toward release.  So next time you see a Cooper’s hawk shoot through your yard or a turkey vulture soar overhead, savor the mastery of flight, and then come on over to TRC and get a closer look!