Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hawk Belly Band Wednesday

Rowan the red-tailed hawk's belly band.
Luta the red-tailed hawk's belly band.


We thought it would be fun to share some photos of the differences in plumage, and particularly the "belly bands", of two of our education winged ambassadors.  Both Rowan and Luta are 2015 hatches, so they are about the same age.  However, as you can see, their plumage is very different, which is typical for red-tailed hawks.  Read about Luta and Rowan on their web pages. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vulture Valentine from The Raptor Center

We wanted to send this valentine to all our friends. We could not decide who had the most fun for the "photo shoot" - Nero the turkey vulture, or Dan Hnilicka, our non-feathered staff.

To all of our wonderful donors: we send our heartfelt thanks to you! Your generosity ensures that we can continue caring for sick and injured raptors, identify emerging environmental issues, and provide education opportunities and programs for our community. Thank you for your generous support. Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Share Jonah's Love for Raptors

Jonah, fourth from left, and his family and friends.
The Raptor Center recently made a new friend who impressed us so much with how beautifully he expressed his love of raptors.  Jonah, 13, agreed to share his journey so far in a guest blog post.  He is also a talented artist, as you can see from his drawings.

We thank Jonah and his family and friends for being a part of spreading the message how raptors are an important part of our shared world, and we look forward to another visit soon.
Jonah's drawing of Northern Saw-whet owls

Jonah drew a hawk, hunting for prey.

"Hello, my name is Jonah, and I am 13 years old. This is my first post for The Raptor Center blog. After sending The Raptor Center a Thanksgiving thank-you letter for caring for the sick, poisoned, injured and human-imprinted raptors, I was asked to write for this blog. Aside from having a deep love and respect for animals and nature and a fiery passion for their conservation and protection, I like reading and drawing.

So, it's February, which means romantic lovey-doveyness everywhere. Blech. The only kind of love I'm going to be talking about is how I first came to love raptors. I've always loved animals since I was a baby (literally!), but my love for raptors in particular, and owls in particular among raptors, did not begin until fairly recently- the late summer of 2016, to be exact. I love to read and some of my favorite stories are those with animals as main characters. Naturally, I eventually was introduced to a book series called Guardians of Ga'hoole by Kathryn Lasky. In case you have not heard of the series or read it, the stories are set in a world where humans no longer exist, and the main characters are owls, among other animals. The author incorporated a lot of real facts and information about owls into her writing and it got me curious to know more.

Next, what really sparked the flame of interest was our cabin trip in September when I heard my mom say, "Look! An owl!" but I missed it. From that moment on I had a goal to see owls in the wild; I spent the remainder of the cabin weekend listening for and looking for owls. I heard one in a tree nearby but was never able to see it. Later, a small bird that was probably a Saw-Whet owl swooped in front of our windshield in a blurry flash. Since then I have seen wild owls right in our neighborhood- probably the same nesting pair. I've seen them twice in December silhouetted in the dark, moonless distance after hearing them calling, and once (just today) in the daylight getting chased away by crows as I glanced up from writing this!

All the other raptors kinda got dragged along for the ride when my love for owls began and I have kept track of the species I have seen ever since. I'm probably not the only one who is kind of grossed out by all this February love madness, so I strongly suggest joining me in the love of raptors!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Bald Eagle Patient with an Environmental Message for Us

On Sunday, a bald eagle patient from the Mankato, MN area was brought into The Raptor Center’s clinic.  The bird had been spotted tangled by its left wing from some fishing line, floating in the Minnesota River.

While the eagle’s wing is recovering from the entanglement, its blood work and physical exam showed that it was recently exposed to (ingested) lead.  Because lead toxicity is commonly seen in bald eagles, every eagle admitted to TRC’s clinic has its blood tested for the presence of lead. While lead toxicity is often fatal to eagles, this bird’s other problems (fishing line entanglement) resulted in it getting treatment at an early stage of the disease. 

The bird, like all of our clinic patients, had an important environmental message to tell us.  On average, 25-30% of the bald eagles admitted suffer from lead toxicity. The primary cause of lead toxicity in bald eagles is ingestion of bullet fragments (hunting ammunition) in a meal such as a deer carcass or gut pile.  Lead poisoning has long been recognized to be a serious problem in bald eagles admitted to The Raptor Center. 

Dr. Julia Ponder, TRC's executive director, is featured in this Undark article, discussing the impacts of spent ammunition on wildlife. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

How You Can Help Great Horned Owls and Other Raptors

 As each New Year begins, great horned owls in particular become more active as they claim their territories, engage in courtship, and begin the nesting season.  Many of these birds are our close neighbors, living in residential areas.  They easily get entangled and trapped in holiday lights still decorating outdoor trees and shrubs, as did the patient featured here.  In an attempt to free themselves, these owls often sustain injuries and/or break the tools they need to fly:  their feathers.  One action we can all take to help prevent these situations and to continue to spread holiday cheer is to remove festive light decorations right after the holiday season is over. This one act can potentially save an owl’s life.
You can see the bruising on the underside of
the owl's wing.

Please spread the word with your family and friends. A little preventative action on your part can help our owl neighbors stay healthy especially during their reproductive season.
Here is a page of how to help an injured raptor.

As always, we could not do this work without your support.  Thank you for caring about raptors.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I Wonder . . . What does Peregrination Mean?

For those who follow our social media, Maxime the bald eagle usually helps with our "I Wonder" series. Today, we felt Artemis the peregrine should ask, "I Wonder . . . what does peregrination mean?"

noun: Traveling from place to place, also a course of travel, especially on foot.

From Latin peregrinari (to travel abroad), from peregrinus (foreign), from peregre (abroad), from per- (through) + ager (field, country). Ultimately from the Indo-European root agro- (field), which is also the source of agriculture, acre, peregrine, pilgrim (a variant of peregrine), and agrestic. Earliest documented use: 1475.

Banded peregrine falcons through the Midwest Peregrine Society work ( have been documented "peregrinning" to Guatemala, Costa Rica and other countries.

(Thank you to

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

TRC 1000th Patient of 2016 Released Back to the Wild

Dr. Dana Franzen-Klein with patient 16-1000
The 1000th raptor clinic patient of 2016 was released back to the wild. This hatch-year great horned owl was admitted over the Thanksgiving holiday, stuck in a chimney. It had been mildly dehydrated, with some abrasions and soot on both carpi (wrists).

Clinic staff cleaned off the soot on the feathers, so the bird could not ingest or inhale it. Broken feathers were replaced with ones that had been salvaged from previous patients, and it was test flown to make sure there were no other concerns.

Dr. Dana Franzen-Klein, who rescued the bird, released it near the site it was recovered.

Here is a video of the release