Monday, July 27, 2015

Prairie Falcon TRC Clinic Patient

Prairie falcon patient.  Note the head shape.

In a Minnesota city and its suburbs, it would not be surprising to see a falcon maneuvering around the urban landscape.  Peregrine falcons, merlins, and American kestrels have all adapted to make these areas their homes.  However, the falcon that was found in an intersection in Duluth, Minnesota last week was not any of these species; it was a young female prairie falcon, presumably pushed east by a group of storms that had recently rocked the state.  Instead of her natural habitat of arid and semi-arid plains in western and southern states, she found herself in an intersection in a relatively large city in northeastern Minnesota. She was unable to fly due to a dislocated collarbone and was taken to Wildwoods Rehabilitation Center in Duluth for supportive care before being transported to TRC.
Note the absence of barring on the central tail feathers.
Young peregrine falcon head.  Note the
rounded appearance.
In addition to her collarbone injury, she was a little thin and dehydrated, but her spirit didn’t falter. Her enthusiasm for food became quite apparent and she has settled in nicely to her convalescent enclosure.  Over the course of the next few weeks, she will receive physical therapy twice weekly to prevent her wing joints from stiffening as she heals, and will be given a varied diet of mammal and bird species.  Unlike peregrine falcons, prairie falcons eat rodents as well as birds; in the wild, Richardson’s ground squirrels are commonly preyed upon by prairie falcons.

Tail feathers of a wild adult peregrine.
Note the uniform barring across all 12.
  There are a few characteristics that distinguish peregrine and prairie falcons in the hand.  Prairie falcons have flat, blocky heads, as opposed to more rounded heads of peregrines, and their plumage, even as a hatch year bird, is paler brown than the rich dark brown color of most young peregrines in the Midwest.  The feature that is the most definitive though, is the central two tail feathers.  In peregrines all the tail feathers are marked with bars, but prairie falcons have two central tail feathers that are solid in color while all the others are barred.  This is true for both a prairie falcon’s juvenile and adult plumage.

Both prairie and peregrine falcons have size difference between the sexes.  Females are a third larger than males for both species.  This prairie falcon patient is unquestionably a female due to her size and weight.

This bird came to our care because humans wanted to help raptors.  We are grateful for the help and support for all of our clinic patients, which we could not assist without you.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Many Faces of Gladdie the Bald Eagle

We’d like to share with you a series of photos of the Many Faces of Gladdie the Bald Eagle.  This photo album highlights some more of the benefits of our new education bird housing.

The partially open roof design allows the birds to experience and be more engaged with the sights and sounds in their surroundings.  As you can see, Gladdie noticed some newly fledged American crows flying overhead! 

The design of the walkways for the public to visit the birds puts both on the same level, which helps the birds be at ease and lets them know what to expect.  TRC staff and volunteers love it as much as the birds do!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How Can Feathers Be Waterproof?

Pi enjoyed his mist bath!

The Raptor Center is holding a summer camp on Biomimicry for the first time.  Biomimicry looks elements of nature for inspiration to solve human problems or address human needs.  The evolution of plant and animal adaptations, for example, shows they have "solved" problems by being able to survive.

The exercise our campers engaged in was to see how feathers have evolved to be waterproof, among other things.  Camp leader Erin A. gave Pi the bald eagle a mist bath, so the campers could see how his feathers did deflect water.  (Though he did thoroughly enjoy his bath!)

Design work for the rain jackets!

Then, the campers devised their own ways to create waterproof "rain jackets" with various human-made materials.  The test was to see if they got wet after being in their own mist/rain bath for ten seconds.

This opportunity to be able to teach this topic would not have been possible without the support of our donors and friends in the campaign to build the new structures.  The new space for our education birds was built to allow for easier public gatherings and presentations.  The addition of many water spigots in the new space allowed us to use water hoses in different areas, including being able to go outside the bird courtyard to conduct the experiment.

This camp is just one example of many in which we are again grateful for the opportunities to better serve the public with our new space.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Where is an Eagle's Elbow?

Raptor anatomy is something we love talking about, but sometimes a little difficult to show with our education birds.  Here is a photo of Maxime at a Raptor Release event; she was sunning/drying out after a dip in her bath pan.  Her wrist (marked with a 1), elbow (2), and shoulder (3) are marked with arrows.  The other photo is showing her wrist, when she is perched. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Young "Veterinarians" at TRC

This week was our "Raptor Vet" summer camp at The Raptor Center, for ages 9-11. Our campers learned the process of raptor rehabilitation from admission to release.  In the first photos, Dr. Devin Tunseth, one of TRC's clinical interns, used a stuffed bald eagle to demonstrate some of the parts of a raptor patient that are examined.
Clinical Intern Dr. Devin Tunseth

The last two photos are drawings from our campers.  The activity was intended to encourage observation skills, which are very important to a veterinarian who is examining a patient.  Some of our education winged ambassadors were used as the "models."  The campers came up with some very detailed drawings, as well as very skillful perceptions of the birds' anatomy. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Meet Violet - TRC's Education American Kestrel

Meet Violet the American kestrel.
Many of you might have already met Violet, one of our education ambassador American kestrels.  She now has a name!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

TRC Clinic Census July 6, 2015

Young Cooper's hawk

Our clinic has admitted 326 wild patients this year.  We currently have 63.  We post the census weekly here on our website.

Some of our patients are in individual patient cages while their injuries heal. Others are in large flight rooms or in managed areas for exercise before their release.

As of July 6, 2015, our census is:

Bald Eagle
Golden Eagle

Hawks - Buteos
Red-tailed Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk

Hawks - Accipiters
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk

American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon

Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Eastern Screech-owl