Friday, August 31, 2012

Name the Owl Contest - Just a Few More Days!

We have had some very creative names submitted for our education Northern Saw-whet Owl.  There are still a few more days left to submit your choice as the contest ends at the end of the day September 4.  Please go to our website to submit your suggestion. 

Sept 1 is International Vulture Awareness Day

Nero, TRC's education turkey vulture, would like everyone to know that September 1 is International Vulture Awareness Day.   It is a coordinated international day to publicize the conservation of vultures to a wider audience and highlight the important work being carried out by the world’s vulture conservationists.
Nero would also like you to know that in addition to being quite handsome and interesting (see the cartoon at the bottom of this post), vultures play important roles in the health of ecosystems.  However, they also face some very real challenges.  Here is a video of Dr. Munir Virani, who works for the Peregrine Fund and is based in Nairobi.  He works with raptor projects in Africa as well as Pakistan and has been one of the most vocal in the plight of vultures worldwide.

There is a vulture in Germany who is helping the police force in a way that only his species can!
Show your vulture pride with a plush vulture or vulture earrings, now on sale at 20% off.  They can be purchased in The Raptor Center gift shop, or you can shop online!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

CFANS Amazing Race at TRC

The Raptor Center loves being a part of the University of Minnesota, especially when students are back on campus.  This is Welcome Week, which for six days are sets of activities for incoming freshman.  The aim is to improve student engagement, first year retention and ultimately graduation rates by equipping students with the knowledge and resources to make a successful transition from high school to collegiate life.

The College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) organizes an Amazing Race activity, which introduces them to The Raptor Center.  Good luck students!  We hope you visit us again soon!

TRC Clinic Patient Census Aug 29

Northern Harrier
TRC's clinic has received 550 patients so far this year.  We currently have 81 patients. 

Bald eagle   17

Red-tailed hawk   22
Broad-winged hawk   5
Red-shouldered hawk   1

Hawks - Accipiters
Cooper's hawk   14

Merlin   5
Peregrine falcon   4
American kestrel   1

Great horned owl   8
Barred owl   2

Northern Harrier   2

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TRC on WCCO Radio at the Fair

TRC's Executive Director, Dr. Julia Ponder, brought Juneau the peregrine to talk with Dave Lee on WCCO radio, at the State Fair.  Dave is a long-time supporter of TRC and we appreciated the chance to talk about TRC's mission and what we have coming up for this fall. 

TRC at the Renaissance Festival

A big thank you to all who came out to the Renaissance Festival this past weekend.  This is a fun event for TRC, as we often meet many new people here.  We hope you come to visit us soon.

Interpretive Naturalist Adam Barnett introduced Artemis the peregrine falcon (who enjoyed her own version of mutton), Maxime the bald eagle, Nero the turkey vulture, and Ricke the great horned owl. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tracking bird migration - storms

Fletcher Smith with Akpik on breeding ground in the Canadian Arctic.
 The Raptor Center thinks all birds are interesting, not just raptors.  We are fascinated by recent information on the current fall migration route of  shorebirds called  Whimbrel.  Scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) have

tracked 3 whimbrels off the east coast of Canada to the northern shore of South America via a previously unknown migration pathway over the open Atlantic Ocean. The route passed through the center of the vast Atlantic at one point passing 1,000 miles closer to Africa than to North
America and within 700 miles of the Cape Verde Islands. The bird with the longest flight flew
nonstop for 145 hours (6 days) covering a distance of 7,000 kilometers (4,355 miles). The three birds named Mackenzie, Taglu, and Akpik were originally marked by CCB and Canadian Wildlife Service staff on the breeding grounds along the Mackenzie River Delta in far western Canada (Mackenzie was fitted with a transmitter recovered from Machi, a bird that was shot on Guadeloupe in September of 2011). In mid-July the birds flew across the continent to the east coast of Canada and staged for approximately 2 weeks in the James Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to build fat reserves. The birds then flew southeast, reaching the center of the Atlantic Ocean before turning south and making landfall in South America between Guyana and
Brazil. Although this portion of the Atlantic is used by true seabirds that roost on the water, it is
so isolated from shore that species such as whimbrel that cannot land on water were not believed
to reach it. The birds may receive some benefit from venturing this far out to sea in the form of
favorable tailwinds. Mackenzie averaged just under 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour)
for the 6-day flight. The study has tracked whimbrels for more than 185,000 miles (300,000 kilometers)

since 2008.
Map of migration route for 3 whimbrels marked on breeding ground in western Canada.
Incredible flight through the open Atlantic was previously undocumented.

As of Aug 24 - One of the Whimbrels ("Pingo") that was satellite tagged this summer began migration on 18 August and has flown 2200 miles so far before hitting Tropical Storm Isaac (now Hurricane Isaac), with at least another 1000 miles to go to make landfall.

Pingo is entering the northeast quadrant of the storm, which seems to be how Whimbrels tackle these events, and it is expected (based on previous Whimbrel routes) to fly towards the center of the storm and then use the southwest quadrant (and the tailwinds that quadrant produces) as a boost towards landfall. Last fall "Hope" the Whimbrel took 27 hours and averaged 9mph flying through a similar sized storm, and then flew an average of 92mph for 1.5 hours out the back end towards land!

Sources of info: Center for Conservation Biology, (a Nova Scotia birding site), and a birding lists digest from

TRC in Rochester MN for program Aug 28

TRC will be featured at the next UMR (University of Minnesota-Rochester) CONNECTS, a weekly lecture series for the Rochester focused on public engagement and outreach. TRC will explore the different raptors found in Minnesota and their role in the environment. Aug. 28, 7–8:30 p.m., 4th floor University Square. For more information, see UMR Connects.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Announcing 2012 Duke Lecture for RSVP

The Raptor Center is proud to announce our 2012 Duke Lecture is now available for RSVPs.  It is at 4:00, Friday, October 12, on the St Paul campus, at Pomeroy Center. 

Dr. Scott Lanyon, Head of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior and former director of the Bell Museum, will speak on the Tree of Life. Dr. Lanyon will lead us on an exploration of how scientists study the evolutionary relationship of life on earth, with special emphasis on birds. We’ll find out more about the Tree of Life project, a collaborative effort of biologists and nature lovers from around the world.

This event is free and open to the public. It is intended for those with a general to intermediate knowledge of birds. 

This event fills quickly, so RSVP here

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dr. Ponder on WCCO 830 AM Radio Monday

You can listen to Dr. Julia Ponder, Executive Director, talk with Dave Lee on WCCO Radio at the Fair!  She will be on-air Monday morning at 7:45am.  Listen live here!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Northern Saw-whet at the Fair

Laura Freeman and our Northern Saw-whet owl appeared at the U of M stage at the State Fair!  Come see them again at noon! 

Most people come to the State Fair for a Pronto Pop or cheese curds; the saw-whet prefers her treat (a tasty mouse) without being fried. 

Casper the red-tailed hawk also appeared.  Looking forward to seeing you out there!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

TRC at the Fair!

Adam Barnett and Mike Billington brought Juneau (peregrine), Artemis (peregrine), Cinnamon (American kestrel) and Samantha (Great horned owl) out to the Fair!  Adam presented at the UMN stage, and Mike is at the STEM tent (near the Grandstand Park ramp).  Come out and see us - the birds are looking forward to meeting you!

When you are there, don't forget to stop at the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union table, near the MNDNR building.  They will help answer your birding questions, and they have a great display to check wingspans on your favorite birds. 

Submit Your Name Suggestion for our Northern Saw-whet Owl!

Do you have a great name suggestion for our Education Northern Saw-whet Owl?  Please submit it here.  The contest will run through September 4.  After that, we will post the top name suggestions on Facebook for your final vote!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Baby Animals Slideshow from UMN

For 120 years, the University of Minnesota has been providing veterinary care to the region’s animals. Small Animal Hospital cares for Minnesota’s dogs, cats, and other companion animals; its Equine Center heals horses; its Large Animal Hospital most often treats farm animals, but occasionally, as you’ll see in the following slideshow, even zoo and wild animals.   TRC, as you all know, is one of the world’s most prestigious centers for the study and care of everything from the majestic bald eagle to the fastest animal on earth, the peregrine falcon.
You will recognize Harmon in the first photo in this post, and a peregrine falcon and chick in the second.  As we've posted before, TRC coordinates banding activities for this species in13 Midwestern states each season. 

We couldn't do it without your help and support.  We thank each of you who has given us the gift of opportunity to help continue our teaching, research, and service to ensure the health of raptors and the world we share with them

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TRC at the State Fair!

It's almost time for the Great Minnesota Get Together!  We love being a part of it, and have many appearances that we hope to meet you all at. 

August 23 - STEM Tent (by Grandstand Ramp) - 10am-2pm

August 24 - University of Minnesota Stage- 10:30am-11am and 12:00 noon to 12:30pm

August 27 - AFL/CIO 10:30am-11:30am and 12:30pm-1:30pm

September 1 - MNDNR stage 11:00am-11:45am; 1:00pm-1:45pm; and 3:00pm-3:45pm

September 3 - MNDNR stage 11:00am-11:45am; 1:00pm-1:45pm; and 3:00pm-3:45pm

You can always find them on our Google Public Events calendar (that you can download into your own calendar with a GMail account).  Or you can find them on our special events page on our website.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Northern Saw-whet Owl Training Part Two

Our Northern Saw-whet Owl is being trained to travel in a crate to meet the public.  Here, her primary trainer Laura Freeman rewards her with a tidbit of food as she learns that the crate is a comfortable and safe way to travel. 

It is important that our feathered education staff members are comfortable with their human co-workers as well as the details of their "jobs" as ambassadors.  The staff works very hard to slowly introduce new things and give the birds time to acclimate. 

This Thursday, August 23, we will start our contest to suggest names for this bird!  We will post information here and on our Facebook page. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Raptor Center on Twin Cities Live

Juneau the peregrine falcon (and TRC staff Amber Burnette) made some terrific new friends at KSTP-5's Twin Cities Live recently.  The staff were very gracious to her, and the hosts were interested to hear about her species, the camps TRC has had this past summer, and all our exciting events coming up for the fall.  You can see Juneau's appearance here on TC Live's website.  Thank you and we hope to see you again, TC Live!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Raptor Riddle and Matching Quiz Game

Today is National Tell a Joke Day!  To celebrate, we have a Raptor Riddles page for you here on our Just for Fun webpage. 

We also have a quiz game to match the baby raptor with what they will look like as an adult!  You can find the questions and answer pages with the links. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's August - Must Mean Hawk Migration Starting!

August is not too early for raptors to start moving!  Some species have already begun their southerly movements.  If you have not been to Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN, it is a terrific place to visit.  They have a raptor count, and volunteers who are happy to interpret to the public.  Hawk Weekend is September 14-16; you can find more information about the event here.  You can sign up to receive daily accounts of the raptors seen at the Ridge here , and they also have a new opportunity to follow them on Twitter this year!
Here are some of the statistics for raptors counted at the Ridge:  Turkey Vulture Earliest date: Aug 2;

Broad-winged hawk Earliest date: Aug 1;

Sharp-shinned hawk Earliest date: Aug 5;

Northern Goshawk Earliest date: Aug 15.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Additional Hellgate Osprey Flights

Here are a few more shots from this morning.  It appears that band #73 will be the next to fledge! 

One of the parents stopped in to bring food for the youngsters.  With all the energy exerted to try flying, they will no doubt need it!