Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Turkey Vulture Chick

Turkey vultures, the only vulture species to nest in MN, usually choose remote sheltered areas such as rock crevices, caves, hollowed logs or abandoned structures to raise young. This year, one pair decided to take advantage of a woodshed canopy in Marine on the St. Croix. With a pristine river view and quiet landscape, it seemed like the perfect spot, at least until the property was put up for sale and the serenity disturbed by visits from potential buyers. The female vulture, brooding its single chick, spooked off the nest and left the vulnerable 4-5 day old youngster exposed. Found by some children, the chick was taken to TRC and immediately placed in a 90° F incubator to provide it with the warmth it needed. Due to the high level of activity at the recovery site, it was decided that the youngster could not be reunited with its parents. TRC staff quickly networked with a licensed WI rehabilitator who already had two permanently disabled vultures that have raised babies in the past. So, a few days after arriving, the vulture chick, now warmed and eating well, was transported 4 ½ hours east on the wings of compassion by two dedicated TRC volunteers to its new parents in WI. The adult vultures immediately bonded with the chick.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Peregines in Minneapolis

On June 10, four healthy peregrine chicks were banded at the downtown Minneapolis 33 South 6th Street site. It has also been known as City Center and Multifoods Tower. This site has special significance in the story of the Midwest peregrine reintroduction efforts.

2007 was the 20th Anniversary of the fledging of the first peregrine in the wild in the Midwest since DDT wiped out the original population (see below for background). It was the first urban site to host a “hack box” of peregrine chicks, and the first Minnesota site since the 1960s to produce a wild-hatched peregrine that would fledge successfully. In 1985, Dr. Harrison “Bud” Tordoff and Dr. Patrick T. Redig, co-founder of The Raptor Center, approached the building management team at 33 South 6th Street to inquire about putting a “hack box" (also known as a "release box") on the roof. This release box would house young captive-bred peregrine chicks that would be the start of a reintroduction of the species.

DDT, bio-accumulated in the system of peregrines by consuming birds who had eaten grains/plants sprayed with DDT, interfered with egg-shell formation, so no new chicks were hatched for the species population to replenish itself. It took the combined efforts of banning DDT in the United States and re-introduction of the species by groups such as the Midwest Peregrine Society - housed at The Raptor Center - for peregrines to soar the skies once more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Harley's May Travels

The last update had Harley in southwest Douglas County, Wis. on May 5. On May 7 he took off and flew 130 miles north to the top of St. Louis County, Minnesota. He spent a couple of days north of Lake Vermilion then on the 10th continued north covering 119 miles over the next few days ending up in Ontario. By May 15 he had covered a total of 283 miles and has remained in central Ontario through the last data download on June 8.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Peregrine Chick Banding

As part of an on-going project to monitor the Midwest peregrine falcon population, new peregrine chicks are banded each year at their nest-sites. On Friday, May 27, four chicks were banded at the Colonnade building. The nest box has been at this location since 1991, and as of this year, 70 young have been produced. Staff of both The Raptor Center and the Midwest Peregrine Society banded the chicks with small metal bands that will identify the birds, and took blood samples. There are two bands used – one is a federal band (purple) and the other is a bi-colored band that is more easily seen with a spotting scope or binoculars.

Peregrine falcons were removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 1999 after being successfully reintroduced to areas east of the Rocky Mountains.

This last photo, taken June 7, is of the chick that was banded with b/r 04/U on May 27. Can you see the feathers starting to show through the down?