Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #2

All of this has to go with me!
The challenges of packing!

Picture the situation – limited luggage allowances, small boats, equipping a “field hospital,” a few personal items for 5 weeks. And, oh yeah, at least some camera equipment! I am beginning to think that one pair of shorts will have to do me for 5 weeks!

All of the items in this photo need to go, too - and all into the blue tub circled at the top!
 First and foremost, I am trying to pull together everything I need for the hawks. After all, my primary job in Galapagos is to keep the hawks healthy and alive. While many items are obvious, I want to be prepared for whatever I might face. Luckily, we made excellent notes during our last project there. The pictures here show the collection of supplies we have pulled together over the past few weeks. And the container I asked my tech to fit everything in. He wasn’t exactly pleased. Size and weight, however, matter as I have to be able to haul everything I need.

Nancy Pryce cuts tail sheaths for the hawks.

Nancy uses red-tailed hawk feathers to check her measurements.
One of our volunteers, Nancy Pryce, assisted with creating very valuable “tail sheaths” – these little “envelopes” will be fitted over the hawks’ tails to protect the feathers when they are in captivity.

At home, things look about the same (sorry, no pictures). My dining room has discrete piles of what “must” come, what “should” come and a “what I would like to have if I can fit it in.” I am trying to decide which category my tea bags fit in. While the small comforts of home can make your day in the field, I can’t really say they are a “must.” Camera gear, however, is a must. Exactly what I take will be very limited, but a good camera system in Galapagos is a priority. And a side benefit will be sharing pictures with you through this blog. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TRC and Gopher Hockey Military Appreciation Night

Max was allowed to see the area before the game that night.
 Last Friday evening, military personal and their families were acknowledged at the Minnesota Gopher hockey game, for Military Appreciation Night.

The Raptor Center (TRC) was honored  to be present during the playing of the national anthem before the game.   TRC Interpretive Naturalists Adam Barnett (who took these photos) and Mike Billington brought Maxime the bald eagle to represent The Raptor Center.   

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Raptor Center's Education on Non-Lead Alternatives

The Raptor Center has a long tradition of leadership in conservation research and education.   Three recent articles in regional newspapers are indicative of our continuing work to offer information about the connections of spent lead ammunition in deer carcasses and gutpiles and the connections of lead poisoning in bald eagles.  Our message is to educate that non-lead alternatives are available, and personal choice in ammunition selection will make a difference for the health and survival of countless bald eagles this fall. We would like to offer these weblinks to recent articles in St Paul Pioneer Press, Duluth News Tribune and Grand Forks Herald about this topic.

Hawk Counts at Hawk Ridge

There are still a few days (until Oct 31) that hawk interpreters are at Hawk Ridge, Duluth (9:00am to 4:00pm).  Bigger birds are still moving through; on Oct 26 there were 580 red-tailed hawks and 232 bald eagles.  On Oct 27 there were 500 red-tailed hawks and 119 bald eagles.  Rough-legged hawks, northern goshawks and golden eagles are just a few speices that should still be seen moving through for several weeks yet.

The website has links for directions and other information. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

TRC Gift Shop Plush Owl Sale

Stop in at our TRC gift shop any time from October 26-October 31 and receive 10% off any one of our plush owls. We have large and small snowy owls, great horned owls, glowy eyed, owl snap purses and Audubon owls.

If you can't make it to TRC gift shop - you can shop online for our Audubon great horned owl and enjoy the 10% sale.

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #1

Preparing to return to Galápagos

To our TRC friends;

Dr. Ponder is preparing once more to head to the Galápagos Islands.  She will submit journal entries of her activities, which we are thrilled to share with you.  Read this media alert with background on the project.  

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe it has been almost two years since our first project in the Galápagos Islands. As I prepare to return for the next phase, I am excited with a bit of trepidation - it is comforting to know a lot of what to expect and yet there are many new unknowns with a new island and a new population of hawks. Once again, we will be trapping the hawks and managing them in temporary captivity to remove them from the risk of exposure to harm during the eradication of the invasive rats. The first round of islands we did in early 2011 was really a pilot to test our methods in preparation for the one we are doing this time. This new island presents new challenges with an incredible opportunity to make a dramatic impact on the survival of an iconic species – the Pinzón Giant Tortoise.

Pinzón Giant Tortoise
 The Pinzón Giant Tortoise is considered extinct in the wild as invasive rodents have eaten all eggs and hatchlings for over 145 years. The population of these long-lived animals is aging and new recruits have to be bred in captivity. Eradication of invasive rodents will allow successful reproduction again. I can’t tell you how exciting it is that our work, which will allow the rodent eradication project to proceed, will pave the way for the restoration of the tortoise!

Pinzón Giant Tortoise
 With my departure coming soon, there is much to do in preparation. My colleagues in Galápagos have made several trips to the island to survey the population so that we know how many hawks to expect. They have also identified trapping areas and started acclimation of the hawks to feeding at those. Back here in Minnesota, we have reviewed our notes from our last effort, tweaked our plan and have begun to collect all the supplies necessary for “Raptor Field Hospital.” Thanks again this time to 3M Foundation for providing medical supplies for our trip. Hopefully, we will not need anything more than the most basic of supplies, but we will be prepared to deal with whatever we may face.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates as we tackle this exciting project over the next two months!  
- Juli

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Webcam - Andean Condor Chick Hatched at Quito Zoo

The Raptor Center's veterinary resident from Spain, Dr. Irene Bueno, would like to share a webcam with our friends.  A female Andean Condor was recently hatched at the zoo in Quito, Ecuador.  Here is the camera link.

There Peregrine Fund's website lists an Andean Condor with a body length of 43-51 inches, and an 11-foot wingspan.  Females weigh 17-24 pounds and males weigh 24-33.   These condors nest in caves or on ledges on a cliff face. They lay a single egg that is incubated for about 59 days. The young birds learn to fly around 6 months of age, but stay with the parents for several more months. Condors may only breed every other year because of the extended breeding season. Young birds become sexually mature at 6 or more years of age.

The Wildlife Conservation Society mentions that the condors may travel up to 150 miles a day in search of carrion, which they locate primarily by sight

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Raptor Center at Shriner's Hospital for Children

The Raptor Center was very proud recently to appear at the Shriner's Hospital for Children's Costume Party.  Judy Moran brought Bud the bald eagle, Juneau the peregrine falcon, Lois the great horned owl and Jack the American kestrel to visit with patients and their parents. 

This appearance was made possible by the winner of our online auction last year; The Raptor Center agreed to come out to the winning bidder's location, and the winning bidder donated this appearance to the Shriner's Hospital.  Keep watching our blog and Facebook for information on our 2012 online auction, to be held December 4-12. 
Judy Moran and Bud listen intently to a patient.

Juneau the peregrine falon

We want to thank Katherine Vogel for her permission to use these photos. 

Lois the great horned owl.

Magic of the Snowy Owl program on Nature/PBS

Watch the trailer here for the "Nature" series on PBS (TPT for most of the Twin Cities) Magic of the Snowy Owl.  Check local listings; it will be aired for some markets tonight, and replayed Sunday, October 28.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Still room in Wizarding World of Wildlife classes

Does your young wizard (age 7-11) have his/her cloak and hat all ready for Halloween next week?  The Raptor Center can supply a great experience for them on October 26 or October 28 with a Wizarding World of Wildlife class.  Our owls here at The Raptor Center are ready to send out a new batch of acceptance letters for our School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After getting sorted into houses, first-year wizards will take courses in Herbology, Potions, and in the Care and Keeping of Magical Creatures. All students must pass their O.W.L.S. exam to receive their wands and become aurors, protecting Minnesota's wildlife from the Dark Arts.

Programs are Friday, October 26 5:00pm - 8:30pm and  Sunday, October 28 12:30pm -4:00pm. You only register for one session.

Cost is $30 per wizard. There are some take-home items and a snack included.

Registration is required in advance, and is open now. Please call 612-624-2756 or email to reserve your place. We will need your child's name, age and an email address for a contact.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Watch TRC's Give to the Max Day video

We have a video to support our Give to the Max Day efforts November 15.  You can watch it here.  We are thrilled that the first $52,000 in gifts to The Raptor Center on Give to the Max Day will be matched by two loyal donor families: Rachel & Denny Hollstadt and the Sarah J. Andersen Fund of the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation.  More than 60% of our operating budget comes from donations from individuals. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

KARE 11 and TRC

Dr. Julia Ponder, Gail Buhl and Maxime the bald eagle visited with Sven Sundgaard this morning.  TRC welcomes the opportunity to talk to the public tomorrow at Cabela's in Rogers, MN about some choices that can be made to help keep Max's wild cousins healthy. 

Caption Gladdie!

We are sure Gladdie the bald eagle is thinking deeply about something.  What do you think it is?  Go to our Facebook page and post your caption ideas!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

TRC on KARE 11 Friday Morning

Long-time TRC supporter Sven Sundgaard of KARE 11 is hosting TRC tomorrow morning at 6:15am.  Maxime the bald eagle, executive director Dr. Julia Ponder and education program manager Gail Buhl will talk about the upcoming Cabela's appearance Saturday October 20. 

Raptor Tails at The Raptor Center

Our Fall Raptor Tails Series wrapped up this week with All About Owls: Grossology.  Volunteer Sue McCarthy led a wonderfully informative and interactive session with many new "friends" to The Raptor Center. 
Watch for new dates and topics in the spring.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lead-free Ammunition Prevents Lead Poisoning in Eagles

Please read the information here, including quotes from Dr. Redig, on how lead-free ammunition can prevent death from lead poisoning in bald eagles. 

The Raptor Center (and Maxime the bald eagle) is appearing at the Cabela's in Rogers, MN this Saturday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Raptor Center 1:00 Programs Onsite Wed - Fri

The Raptor Center has 1:00pm Raptors of Minnesota onsite programs Wednesday - Friday (October 17-19).  If you or someone you know doesn't have school, it's a great time to come and see us!  The programs are first come, first served, and no RSVP's are taken.  Call 612-624-4745 for more information.

Peregrine Falcon Migration in Florida Keys

Photo Kevan Sunderland
A spectacular total of 651 Peregrine Falcons were tallied during the October 10, 2012 hawk count conducted by the Florida Keys Hawkwatch, at Curry Hammock State Park. To their knowledge, this is the highest number of individuals of that species counted in a single day, anywhere in the world! The previous high count of 638 Peregrines had been established also at Curry Hammock on October 11, 2008.  Most of the migrating raptors we see at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch (FKH) entirely leave the continental U.S. soon after they have been tallied from Curry Hammock State Park. The Florida Keys arches southwestward into the Gulf of Mexico, making it an ideal launching point for migrants traveling into the Caribbean and Central America during the North American fall season. Satellite tracked Peregrine Falcons and Ospreys migrating over the Florida Keys have flown over Cuba and as far as Nicaragua within 24-hours or less.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Duke Lecture 2012

We wish to thank everyone who came to see and hear our 2012 Duke Lecture last Friday.  Almost 100 people listened as Dr. Scott Lanyon talked about what the Tree of Life project is, has accomplished, and how it is being used to understand the evolutionary relationship of life on earth, with a special emphasis on birds.   Please watch our blog, Facebook and website; we'll have a link so you can watch the presentation in a few weeks.
Dr. Ponder introduces Dr. Lanyon.

It is always an honor to pay tribute each year to The Raptor Center's co-founder, Dr. Gary Duke.  We again thank Dr. William H. and Mary E. Holleman for their endowment to allow us to present this opportunity to the public. 

Dr. Patrick Redig, Dr. Lanyon, and Maryann Duke.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Information on Crows and Sparrows from Tags

The Raptor Center loves sharing articles on new information being learned about birds.  A new study led by a biologist at Scotland's University of St. Andrews used electronic tags to see whether crows might learn to use tools from one another.
Another article describes using other tiny tags to reveal for the first time the exact migration route of the Golden-crowned sparrow to its breeding sites in coastal Alaska.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Focus on Diversity Birding Conference Oct 13

The Raptor Center is proud to be a link between all members of the public and the world we share with birds.  We would like to share information on a conference this Saturday, October 13, that focuses on getting new audiences interested in birding. The sponsor is the Fledgling Birders Institute, and it is called Focus on Diversity.
The objective of this event is "to promote effective outreach to more diverse audiences with birding opportunities, outdoor recreation, and conservation messages. By sharing the great outdoors together, we will enhance our lives AND promote a strong societal conservation ethic."

TRC 2013 Calendar Available Online

You can order your 2013 TRC Calendar online through the University of Minnesota's Bookstores.   We have many new clothing items, hats, plush toys and jewelry for all your raptor friends.

If you purchase a calendar - it is also available in our giftstore - your name will be entered to win this framed 16 x 20 inch canvas. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Successful Peregrine Falcon Patient Release

An adult female peregrine falcon was released recently thanks to amazing teamwork.  The injured bird was found behind a Taco Johns’  in Valley City, North Dakota and taken to the Red River Zoo. The zoo, in turn contacted TRC and one of our dedicated volunteers transported it all the way to our clinic.  It presented with internal trauma and a suspected spinal injury, but responded well to treatment and was ready for a test flight three weeks later.  After two weeks of reconditioning, she was back on the wing, resuming her fall journey south to a warmer winter climate.  The Raptor Center loves to share these stories with you.  Will you help us keep making it possible to do this work by considering a gift

Monday, October 8, 2012

Onsite Programs at TRC MEA week

On October 17, 18 and 19, The Raptor Center will offer Raptors of Minnesota onsite programs at 1:00pm.  We will also have a 1:00pm onsite program on Wednesday, November 21 (day before Thanksgiving).

RSVP's are not taken; it is first come, first served.

For information on onsite programs, directions, etc., you can see our website at

To see other events where we are appearing, you can visit our Public Events calendar

Friday, October 5, 2012

Winged Planet on Discovery Channel

The U.S. premiere of the Discovery Channel/BBC co-production Winged Planet, airs Saturday, October 6th at 8/7c.  In his latest project, Downer developed a new team of spy cams to offer viewers a jaw-dropping view of the world from an entirely different perspective. As these remarkable birds fly, they use the landscapes below them to navigate, search for food, roost and migrate. Spy cams allow viewers a moving three-dimensional view as they ride on the backs of spectacular eagles, cranes, pelicans, snow geese and countless other birds while they soar above some of the most awe-inspiring parts of America, Africa and Europe.