Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Help with Bird ID

Most of us can use some help in identifying the birds (not just raptors!) we encounter in our lives.  Maybe you just heard a note or two, or saw a blur or shadow zip past us in a flurry of feathers.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great site that can help identify songs and calls, size and shape, behavior, habitat and more.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Checking in on Turkey Vulture Camera

The Turkey Vulture chicks featured on the Raptor Resource's nest cam are almost six weeks old now.   Their "nest" is in a hayloft of a barn in Missouri.  The first egg was laid May 9, the second was laid May 12, and both hatched on June 19, about 9 hours apart. 

If you haven't had the chance to meet our 38-year-old education Turkey Vulture, Nero, please do!  He is a part of our Adopt a Raptor program, which helps feed, house, and provide medical care for our education ambassadors, who because of extensive injuries cannot be released back into the wild.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Just For Fun

The Raptor Center would like to share some of our ways to teach young learners about raptors.  We have created several activity books to download for free; they contain word searches, puzzles and fact sheets about raptor species.  We also have finger puppet and mask templates.  Keep checking back; we will post new things as we finish them!

[Cover of the barn owl activity book]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Harmon the Eaglet Homecomings

We would like to share some recent video captured from the nest cam from some Harmon fans.  Harmon continues to make visits back to the nest. One video was as recent as this past Monday; he is sure "mugging" for the camera. About a minute into the video, it appears that he is “feaking” (cleaning) his beak on the camera housing. We were very happy to see that he looks to also have a full crop; meaning, he must be eating well! You can see a bit of a bulge just under his neck. He is exhibiting the curiosity we recognize in young eaglets as they are still processing the things they encounter.

One viewer edited some footage from July 16. As you can see, Harmon appears to be healthy and doing a great job of "being an eagle."

We continue to be humbled and inspired by the continued good wishes and kind words from Harmon's followers. This eaglet became a focal point to teach about eagle biology as well as the environment. We are very grateful, as you all are, to have been a small part of his life. Every bird that is a patient in our clinic, and thrives once they are released for a second chance at life, is a success story. We again couldn't have been there to help Harmon and all his wild cousins if not for your support.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Raptor Center Appearing Near You

Though we would love to host your family or group at our Center on the St Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, we are also appearing at numerous fairs, festivals and other happenings this summer and fall.  We have a public events calendar where we put our appearances, on and off site.   It is in Google, so if you have a gmail account, you can download the events into your own calendar. 

We highlight events, such as our upcoming appearances at the State Fair and Renaissance Festival, on our News and Events website page. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Answer: Cooper's Hawk!

The last raptor in the above post is a Cooper's Hawk! 

Raptor Babies

If you've been following our Raptor Clinic Patient Census, you know that this is a very busy time for us.  Raptor youngsters are fledging or have recently fledged, and are encountering many new things in their world. 
Our clinic staff are very skilled at treating the patients; but they also are very skilled at identification of the patients.  Some raptor species have juvenile plumage or other physical characteristics that make them look much different then when they are an adult. 

Some are a little easier than others; did you identify the first photo as a young peregrine falcon?  An adult is the second photo.   

Now it is a little more challenging; the third photo are Northern saw-whet owls.  So is the fourth one!  In the case of this species, the molt for adult plumage begins in the first fall!  (We have not received young saw-whets yet this season; these photos were taken previously.)

Now it is your turn to be the "raptor baby detective."  The last two photos are of a raptor chick, and what the species looks like as a juvenile.  What species is it?  We will post a photo of an adult of this species later today. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Raptor Center Educates Young Raptor Enthusiasts

The Raptor Center offers many opportunities for young learners onsite at our location from camps to youth service-learning programs (Youth Raptor Corps) and Raptor Tails (for ages 3-5).  We also travel to your location, as we did recently as part of the Owatonna and Blooming Prairie Summer Reading Program that runs from the beginning of June to the end of August.  Over 230 children attended. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Urban Nesting Raptors On Camera

Checking in this morning on the Montana Osprey - look how they've grown!  Their feathers have a distinctive buffy edge, which will help in camouflaging the juveniles, and will wear through the course of their activities after the leave the nest.  The parents are very actively bringing fish into the nest, as you can see from the screen shots this morning. 

Another camera to enjoy is this barn owl camera in Oceanside, CA.  This owl box is (pictured here) 16 feet above the ground in the owners back yard which is near acres of open wilderness.  The first clutch was this past March, and the pair (named Mel and Sydney) have been spending time in the box again recently.  You can see a pellet here in the screen shot grabs from this morning. 

Barn owls and osprey are raptors that often make their homes in urban areas.  This intersection of wildlife and humans can sometimes result in injuries to birds as they encounter power lines, cars, windows and other obstacles.  The Raptor Center is in a unique position to assist injured raptors with our experienced staff, as well as help educate the public on what they can do for, and understand about, raptors.  Here is a FAQ page for how to help an injured bird.  We have programs off and onsite to learn about raptors.  Volunteering is a great way to be involved with The Raptor Center.  Your support of all the opportunities provide for humans and raptors alike is always appreciated.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TRC Clinic Patient Census July 18

We have received 367 patients so far this year, and currently have 70. 

    Bald eagle   21

Hawks - Buteos
   Red-tailed hawks   15
   Broad-winged hawks   6

Hawks - Accipiters
   Cooper's hawk (see pic)   7

   Peregrine falcon   3
   American kestrel   3

   Great horned owl   9
   Eastern screech-owl   3
   Barred owl   2

Turkey vulture   1

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Raptor Center featured on Our Turn - Intermedia Arts

The Raptor Center was happy to be a subject for Our Turn, part of Intermedia Arts.  This multidisciplinary, multicultural arts center supports a broad spectrum of artists, with a particular focus on voices you are unlikely to hear anywhere else. They are a nationally recognized leader in empowering artists and community leaders to use arts-based approaches to solve community issues. They are multi-lingual and many-cultural, empowering artists and young people to tell their stories, in their own words and ways.

Our Turn is a television talk show made for teens, by teens in grades 7-12. They choose their own subject matter, write their own scripts, conduct interviews, operate the cameras and edit your own story segments in this free after-school program.
Click here to see the video the students produced. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wizarding World of Wildlife at The Raptor Center

The Wizarding World of Wildlife camp started this week at The Raptor Center.  It was just in time; a Very Big Mystery needs to be solved!  The campers will need all the skills they will learn this week to determine what happened with the clues they find. 

They will be aided with information from their Potions, Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures classes.  Professor Witherwings, Professor Downy, Professor Arachnos, and Professor Willow will teach the campers important critical thinking, investigation, and scientific methodology skills that they will use once the week is over.

In the first two photos, the campers are sorted into their Houses upon arriving.  Squawks the Parrot interpreted for the Sorting Hat. 

In the third photo, a camper very carefully collects evidence from the clues found.

In the fourth photo, Professor Downy shows the campers some of the equipment that TRC clinic staff use to solve patient raptor cases. 

In the last photo, Professor Willow shows the campers how to make a crystal ball.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Peregrine Falcons at Sappi Cloquet Paper Mill

The Pine Journal ran an article about the peregrine chicks banded this season at the Sappi Cloquet Paper Mill.  We unfortunately do not have more information about the birds after the article was written.  It appears at least four of the five chicks survived the flooding that occurred a couple of weeks ago. 

The Midwest Peregrine Society, headquartered at The Raptor Center, coordinates the banding of peregrine chicks in the Midwest each year.  Information on chicks, sites and states can be found at http://www.midwestperegrine.org/

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Raptor Center and ACES

The Raptor Center is proud to  partner with ACES - Athletes Committed to Educating Students.  The mission of ACES is to close the academic achievement gap of at-risk urban students in grades four through eight.  The students are very interested in owls.  Each year The Raptor Center provides programming and learning opportunities for them, and the students engage in a service learning project that helps The Raptor Center.  Some past projects have included making raptor lunch boxes (props for teaching what raptors eat), puzzles for our children's area at The Raptor Center, and giant owl pellets for programs.  This year the students created bookmarks, that can be puchased for 50 cents each in our gift shop at The Raptor Center.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Osprey . . . Did You Know?

The Raptor Center loves osprey, so we wanted to feature them in another posting.

Do you remember the osprey cam we posted?   We wanted to show just how quickly osprey (like all raptor chicks) grow.  The first two pictures were screenshots taken on July 2.  The next two shots were taken yesterday; just nine days later! 

We would like to share some interesting facts about osprey. 

Did you know . . .

In North America, migration typically begins in August, although individuals (generally failed breeders) may leave earlier and wander widely before beginning true migration.

Breeding pairs did not migrate or winter together.

Median fall departure dates for satellite-tracked females preceded males in the East and Midwest; no comparisons could be made in the West. Among mated pairs, tagged females departed 7–39 d before their mates in all cases.

Mean distance traveled per day by satellite-tracked individuals during fall migration varied from 95 to 380 km/d.

One of the most impressive trips was made in early September 2008 by a three-month-old female osprey named Penelope, who traveled frm Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and flew 2,700 miles to French Guiana in 13 days.

Band returns and sightings of nonbreeders on wintering areas indicate first-year birds generally remain on wintering grounds 18 months, or until they are in their third year. Rarely, 2-yr-olds return to breeding grounds.

We know much of this information from bands placed on the osprey chicks' legs (the last two photos, posted yesterday, are cropped to show the silver federal band and colored project band), as well as satellite tracking "backpacks" on individuals.  The information for this post came from the Cornell Birds of North America Online website, as well as a paper co-authored by Mark Martell (The Condor, 2001) of Audubon Minnesota, and formerly of The Raptor Center. 

As always, we thank our friends like you for continuing to support our work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Osprey Chicks Make a Stop at TRC

Five osprey chicks visited TRC’s clinic this afternoon. They are a part of the osprey restoration project in Iowa (read below for story). They were checked for overall health, feather condition, and external parasites such as maggots or lice were removed. They were then given a fish meal, and continued on their way to Iowa.

Photo 1: Osprey chick done with an exam.  Photo 2: Dr. Ponder checks a wing.  Photo 3: ear openings are checked for parasites.  Photo 4: Dr. Ponder is feeling the leg bones to check for injuries.  Photo 5: To prevent dehydration on the trip, the chicks were given subcutaneous fluids. 

Osprey Restoration in Iowa

Historically, there were numerous Osprey summer sightings in Iowa, but apparently these young, non-breeding Ospreys returned to areas where they were reared for mating and nesting. During the last 20 years, the number of migrants through Iowa has increased as breeding populations to the north have grown. Despite this population growth, Ospreys have demonstrated little breeding range expansion. Minnesota and Wisconsin DNR officials suggested that Ospreys do not readily pioneer new breeding ranges. Instead, they experience suppressed reproduction as density of nesting pairs increase. To address this issue, young Ospreys from Wisconsin and Minnesota began being relocated to areas with suitable habitat in Iowa.

Approximately 42-day-old Ospreys from Minnesota and Wisconsin are relocated from nests where more than one young exists. After a check-up at The Raptor Center, the birds are driven to release sites and placed in carefully constructed release towers or "hack sites." Hack sites are predator proof 8' x 8' x 8' structures with bars on the front that provide visibility of surroundings. The bars are opened when ospreys are released. Trained volunteers feed the young daily in such a manner that the birds do not imprint on people. By quietly viewing ospreys through one-way mirrored glass or from monitors, detailed observations of each bird's temperament and condition are logged daily.

When Ospreys are approximately 53 days of age, they are full-grown with rapidly developing feathers and are ready to be released. The birds are actually heavier than they will be as adults, due to built-in fat reserves until self-sufficiency is achieved. Great care is exercised to ensure that young are not startled into their first flight - at this stage of the young Ospreys’ development, the less disturbance or drama, the better. After the Ospreys fledge, volunteers supplement the birds’ diets with fish at the hack site, until birds begin fishing on their own and self-sufficiency is achieved.