Friday, November 30, 2012

Minnesota Ornithologists' Union Paper Session Saturday December 1

Tomorrow, Saturday, December 1, the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union will hold their annual Paper Session.  It is at the Bell Museum of Natural History, east bank, University of Minnesota.  This session will present research done in the past year related to birds.  Here is a listing of the topics for this year.  TRC's Dr. Redig will present on "Bald Eagles and Lead Poisoning-Research and Progress."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dr. Redig and TRC featured in Profiles Magazine

TRC's co-founder and Director Emeritus Dr. Patrick Redig is featured in Profiles magazine as a One Health pioneer who contributed to the foundation for the College of Veterinary Medicine’s strong veterinary public health, comparative medicine, and ecosystem health programs.

These programs are recognized nationally and internationally today. The concept of One Health has become one of utmost importance as emerging diseases threaten the food supply, wildlife populations, and the health of humans and domestic animals.

The issue of Profiles is available here

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Owls' Flight Provides Clues to Mitigating Aircraft Noise

Read an interesting article here about how "owls' specialized plumage reduces noise so they can hunt in acoustic stealth. Researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, are studying the owl's wing structure to better understand how it mitigates noise so they can apply that information to the design of conventional aircraft."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #11

Franny, one of my colleagues here, and I pushed through our morning chores early today so that we could hike up to a couple of territories to check on some free-flying males that we have never been able to catch. My first chance to get to the other side of the island, which was very different than "our side." When we arrived at the site we were headed to, we climbed up to the rock overlook to eat lunch and scout the situation. Interesting side note - we call this site "Avion" (plane) as there is a wreckage of a WWII plane there. We intended to hike down to see the wreckage, but one of our stray males showed up pretty quickly. Franny and others have tried in vain to capture this guy, so we had no expectations, but put out goat meat anyway. He came in within 30 minutes - just enough time for us to get set up, wolf down lunch and catch him. As he is one of the known breeding males on the island, he was a priority, so no question we were keeping him.

Getting him out, however, was a bit more difficult. And Pinzon (the island) exacted its revenge on me. Luckily, Francisco, the 22-year-old Ecuadorian who has been working with us, had headed to the Avion site ahead of us. As Franny was going to stay to keep monitoring, I hand-carried the hawk out with Francisco leading me down what they call a "trail" - in that end of the island, not much of a trail, though! At one point, Pinzon did its favorite trick; it reached out and grabbed my trailing foot with a thorny vine or a strategically-placed rock. Without my hands to balance, down I went onto that darn lava rock. Didn't lose the bird, didn't do any more damage to myself than superficial scrapes and bruises and didn't squish the bird when I fell forward. Pretty good, I would say. Only real damage was to my ego. Francisco, however, managed to maintain a worried look rather than laughing and was quite relieved when I assured him I was okay.

Early on, we had stored carry-boxes at a central point on the island, so only needed to hand-carry him to that point, at which time Francisco put the box with the hawk safely on his back and the rest of the trip back to our holding site was uneventful.

By my next post, Gail Buhl will have joined me. We will overlap in our time here for a few days, and her help and expertise will be most welcome. Once I leave, Gail will remain for the last part of the project. She has promised to send notes and/or pictures when she can, so all of our friends can continue to follow us.

(From TRC: Gail has visited the Galapagos before, and she is a very talented artist. She brought in a sketch of a marine iguana that she did from her previous trip. She entitled it “Imp of Darkness”. The iguana was on the North Seymour Island in the chain.)

The Raptor Center Clinic Census Nov 26

A great horned owl patient.
TRC has received 762 patients so far this year.  We currently have 55. 


Bald eagle   18

Red-tailed hawk   18
Red-shouldered hawk   1
Broad-winged hawk   1

Hawks - Accipiters
Sharp-shinned hawk   2

Peregrine falcon   2
Merlin   1
American kestrel   1

Northern saw-whet owl   4
Great horned owl   3
Barred owl   2
Short-eared owl   1
Eastern screech-owl   1

Monday, November 26, 2012

Following the Golden Eagles

Golden eagle 46
Mark Martell of Audubon Minnesota shared the most recent maps and movement information of golden eagles with satellite transmitters. 

GOEA 46 “Hda Wah’ pe” was in Aitken Co., MN on Nov 21. On the 22nd he moved about 35 miles to the southeast. On the 23rd he took a 160 mile trip going east into Wisconsin and then south to his previous wintering area, where he has been the past 2 winters, near Alma, Wisconsin. (See first map.)

GOEA 53 “Jack” who was tagged at Hawk Ridge on Nov 12 has been moving slowly but steadily south. On the 13th he was in Douglas Co., WI about 8 miles south of Superior, Wis. On the 15th he continued his southbound journey and moved into Rusk County, Wisconsin. From Nov 16 – 22 he has been using an area west and south of Ladysmith, Wis. (See second map.)

Golden eagle 53

GOEA 45 “Jeanette” continues to have problems with her radio. We once again stopped getting GPS readings. So we are relying on the satellite to give us locations. We do not get these reading as often as the GPS readings. The last location we had on 45 was north of Lake Superior on Nov 20.

Read about the project here, including the partners and background on the birds in this post. 

CyberMonday Shopping - TRC 2013 Calendar 20% Off

Today, CyberMonday, you can get our 2013 TRC Calendar for 20% off in our online bookstore!
Harmon the eaglet is May's feature

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #10

Things are quieting down here and settling in. All the birds are eating except one that was just admitted today.  Most are pretty settled, especially the youngsters. A few are still a bit jumpy, so working to get them quieter.

Although I know there will be on-going maintenance, I finally got the right number of perches (for now) in each enclosure. We had to unwrap the original perches, which were wrapped with 3-strand sisal, then split the strands to get spare rope. Worked well and we now have a rope-wrapped perch and a natural branch perch in each enclosure. As much as I have worked with these birds, they still amaze me. I went into one enclosure to put up a spare perch, which was designed to sit perpendicular to the original perch. Two hawks were perched exactly where I wanted to place the new one, so I tried to gently encourage one to move by sliding the perch toward her. She didn't move even when the perch touched her. Tried to get her to step over it - no luck. Given that she was so relaxed and curious, I finally lifted the perch up and over her head and placed it between the two birds. Never moved, but watched curiously the whole time. And this was an adult, not a juvie!

After 12 days on the boat/island, I finally found time to sneak in a swim yesterday. What a wonderful treat for all the hard work! Saw white tipped tintoreras (placid sharks), green sea turtles, a penguin, sea lions (breeding season - lots of pups on the "beach") and a plethora of colorful salt water fish (which I am totally incapable of identifying).

Probably getting a bit of a prima donna reputation. Last week, I asked for the "cold hard water" (ice) that we had prepared to use as a cooler for blood samples. Segundo, one of my favorite Ecuadorians, immediately indicated that he understood - one of the other workers pointed to the water jug with drinking water, but Segundo replied "no" and headed off to the boat for me. I thought he understood until he came back with a jug of cold water and a cup for me. Oops - wasn't asking for cold water just for me. Wrapped a towel around the jug to use as a cooler temporarily, but I think the other Ecuadorians just thought I wanted cold water to drink.

For now, we are trapping the few new hawks immigrating to the island (in the absence of the local residents who are under my care), and taking blood for genetic samples. We have temporarily run out of identification bands for female hawks, so decided to use finger nail polish to identify them until the bands arrive. In addition to my requesting cold water last week, now I am requesting a variety of fingernail polish colors...yes, my reputation is probably shot.

Miss you all!  Juli

Thursday, November 22, 2012

TRC Thanks You!

At this time, TRC would like to thank each and every one of you for following our stories and adventures, and for your support that makes all of them possible. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Answers to Flight Silhouette Sketches

Answer 1: Snowy owl
How did you do with your guesses? 
Answer 2: Turkey Vulture

Answer 3: Osprey

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #9

Have a moment for a bit of a newsier update.  Started at 4:45 this morning. I spent the morning at the hawk enclosures - all hawks fed and mostly quiet. I need to do some perch work and cleaning, but find the hawks are quieter when fed and wanted to get them as relaxed as possible. Right now, we have our boat, the Queen Mabel, and the two large park boats staged just off-shore. The new boat (Queen Mabel - we switched boats a couple of days ago) is smaller than our previous one, but actually a bit more comfortable. And the cook is exceptional! Yes, we still get rice twice a day (lunch and dinner), but things like granola, yogurt and fruit available for breakfast (along with eggs, meat, toast, etc), and a broad range of foods for lunch/dinner.

The current hawk census - we have all seven (7) known breeding territory groups in captivity (more scouting turned up two more territories). They are again housed by family groups, with three (3) of them having young fledglings that are being well taken care of by the family members. Franny and Jono (colleagues on this project) are checking one more area today to be sure there are no more breeding territories. We still have three (3) stray males from breeding territories that we have not captured yet. With the unique social structure of 1 female and multiple males, we feel pretty good that we have the female and at least one male from each territory, as well as several "yearlings" and the fledglings. Will continue to try to capture the males.

In addition to the seven (7) territories, I have six (6) enclosures (one a double) filled with random juveniles and sub-adults. The early ones trapped were probably the local juvenile contingent, while the ones coming in later are suspected to have arrived from another island - something we did not think happened here. It is quite a puzzle that will have to be worked out with genetic testing at a later date (samples are being taken!). Total hawk count now - 58.

We trapped our last juveniles the day before yesterday - we had thought we were finished in this area only to have three (3) new ones show up mid-morning. I had nothing much for bait and all of my trapping tools were with other members of the team. We tied a rat carcass to a string at our capture spot and put it out to see if we could lure the new birds in. As one of them came in - a big female - I noted a very full crop. She already had a full crop of rat with the tail sticking out of her mouth! Eric got great pictures, which I look forward to sharing when I have better connection.

I am so excited to share these stories with you, as the internet connection has been better of late. I write as long as my eyes can stay open each night!

More when I can – Juli.

Flight Sketch ID's

Try out your raptor identification skills on these three sketch silhouettes.  Three different species of raptors, and all three can be seen in Minnesota for at least part of each year.  Submit your guesses on our Facebook page!

We'll post the answers later today.  Good luck! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TRC Clinic Census November 19, 2012

This young bald eagle has a foam bandage to protect
the wrist while the bird is in its patient cage.
TRC has received 751 patients so far this year  We currently have 56. 

Bald eagle   18

Hawks - Buteos
Red-tailed hawk   19
Red-shouldered hawk   1
Broad-winged hawk   1

Hawks - Accipiters
Sharp-shinned hawk   3

Peregrine falcon   2
American kestrel   1

Northern saw-whet owl  4
Great horned owl   3
Barred owl   2
Short-eared owl   1
Eastern screech-owl   1

Fall Raptor Release Newsletter

You can read/download a copy of our Fall Raptor Release newsletter here.  As always, we love to share stories of our accomplishments, projects, research, conservation topics and of course Tales from the Trauma Center.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #8

(Note from TRC – we are sharing notes from Dr. Ponder when we can. She was able to send two notes recently. We have one post today, and will post the other on Wednesday this week.)

We are up to 44 birds and think there are still six (6) more out there minimum. Let's see, at 100g food per bird per day, that is 4.4kg, which is almost 10 pounds of meat a day! We were challenged a bit with hurrying to build more aviary space. My treasured working space will now been “given” to the new hawk residents. We added on a double enclosure (bye work space!) and will move a bunch (2 rooms) of juveniles in there to open up the smaller ones. Anyway, will be taking in a few more adults, we hope. These adults are very necessary to the breeding population of the species. But we are trying to cap it soon. It is quite a lot of work to keep the birds fed and keep an eye on their health, feathers, etc. The guardeparques (park guards)and I are unwrapping perches, splitting the rope and re-wrapping more perches for the newcomers. This was great advice I got from Lori Arent, TRC’s clinic manager and the other TRC staff who came down to the Galapagos on the 2010 project.

It is been interesting to figure out how many grams of meat to give the birds, if what we are feeding them temporarily is goat meat. How many grams of meat are on a goat rib cage??...but the birds love the enrichment of cleaning it.

There are only five (5) territorial adult females we have found here. There does not seem to be any way that those breeding territories can account for over 20 juveniles and sub-adults, especially considering we have seven (7) fledglings, too. One territory has a sub-adult female. The rest are either offspring of the hawks here or are coming from elsewhere for the food. Genetics will be interesting.

"Noisy" (the juvenile hawk that I mentioned in previous post) has finally quieted down today when his mother fed him - he is young enough that he doesn't want to eat on his own. His sibling (female) wolfed down her rat. We added two (2) new fledglings from another territory today - came down very late (parents, too - we decreed no one touches chicks until that adults are captured as these parents with young are definitely the wariest birds). Food begging as sun set, but got dark before we could get everyone in and give the food for parents to feed them. I left a piece of goat leg for first thing in the morning. Hope it doesn't attract problematic rats.

I am looking forward to Gail (Buhl, TRC’s education program manager) joining me soon. We will overlap in our time here, and then she will stay to release the hawks once the rat eradication efforts are complete, and then monitor the hawks for some time afterwards.

More soon!  Miss you all!   - Juli

(Note from TRC - we know you have been following Dr. Ponder's amazing adventure, but here is a press release from our AHC department before she left just to refresh your minds as to the project mission and goals.)

Come See Us Wed!

Leuc the bald eagle is one of the
raptors you will see at TRC!
Please come and see us on Wednesday, November 21, for a general public program at 1:00pm.  Adults are $7.50, and children/seniors are $5.  No RSVP's taken, so come early to ensure a seat.  We are looking forward to having you!  Here is our website with directions and other information. 
Cinnamon the American kestrel is another bird you might meet at TRC!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #7

Thirty-four (34) hawks have been trapped so far and more to go! There is an unexpectedly high number of juveniles, so need to alter the housing plan. Four birds in most enclosures with a family group of five in one. Space is getting tight, so work area will be sacrificed and converted into hawk enclosure. Already out of female leg bands – will try to secure more. (From TRC – they are ordered and on the way!)

A few hawks are restless, but not many considering. Most restless is a fledgling that is in the family group of 5 – hopefully he will calm down soon. One fledgling, in a different family group, calls constantly (and he was doing that in the wild, too).

All the birds are in amazingly good body condition; eating well despite it being the end of the dry season and even the rat population is low. This island appears desolate as far as food goes, but the hawks are finding something (rats and sea lion placentas probably, although one pellet found with grasshopper remains – not sure what insects like that are on the island).

More when I can - Juli

(From TRC – Dr. Ponder let us know after she sent this post that trappers are heading back out, and she is staying at the Case de Gavilanes, which translates to the “House of Hawks”).

TRC Thanks You!

The Raptor Center thanks each and every one of you for helping us Max our Match yesterday.  Dr Ponder and Max the bald eagle recorded a short video for you here.

Each of you truly keep us flying.  We are inspired by your generosity.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Give to the Max - Halfway there!

You - TRC's friends - have raised $26,100 so far for Give to the Max.  That means we are half way to our $52,000 challenge match!  Can you help us reach it in the next eight (8) hours?

Northern Saw-whet owls in TRC's Clinic

Since the first of October this year, TRC’s clinic has admitted 15 Northern saw-whet owls. This is not unusual because the little owls typically make their winter movements during this time. What is unusual, however, is that five (5) of them were already banded! We do not yet know their individual stories, but we expect to receive information from the Bird Banding Lab in the near future.

Why were these owls admitted? The majority of them suffered traumatic injuries from colliding with objects such as windows. Head and internal trauma were common injuries, but the bird pictured here suffered from a fractured pelvis. This adult female saw-whet was a restless patient, but after about 2 weeks of cage rest and one week of exercise, her energies were once again put into surviving life in the wild.

Northern Saw-whet owls are the smallest owls in MN. They weigh in at only 65-100g (females are larger than males), live in woodland areas in northern and central MN (some now nest in the twin cities area) and are cavity nesters. Their diet consists primarily of mice, the availability of which often determines the extent of their winter movements.

Wrapping wiggly patients, such as this saw-whet owl,
in a specially designed wrap makes it easier to weigh them.

TRC Clinic Patient Census Nov 15, 2012

A short-eared owl patient
TRC has received 740 patients so far this year.  We currently have 57.

Bald eagle   19

Hawks - Buteos
Red-tailed hawk   19
Red-shouldered hawk   1
Broad-winged hawk   1

Hawks - Accipiters
Sharp-shinned hawk   3
Cooper's hawk   1

Peregrine falcon   2
American kestrel   1

Northern saw-whet owl   3
Great horned owl   3
Barred owl   2

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hola, amigos de habla hispana de TRC!

Si nunca habíais oído hablar de nosotros, somos el Raptor Center. Somos una organización no gubernamental conocida a nivel internacional. Nos encontramos dentro de la Facultad de Veterinaria en el campus de Saint Paul de la Universidad de Minnesota. Nuestra clínica recibe más de 700 rapaces salvajes heridas cada año (aguilillas, búhos, águilas, halcones, águilas pescadoras y buitres) y nuestros veterinarios forman a muchos otros profesionales de todo el mundo en medicina de rapaces y en conservación. También enseñamos a más de 150,000 personas cada año a través de nuestros programas educativos y eventos.

Aquí puedes encontrar un pequeño vídeo del trabajo que hacemos.
Nos vendría muy bien tu ayuda. El dia 15 de Noviembre es un dia especial que se llama 'Give to the Max Day', y ese dia cualquier donación que recibamos se combina de tal forma que se podría convertir en 52,000$! Todas las donaciones nos ayudan a seguir dando el mejor cuidado médico a estas rapaces que lo necesitan, asi como a continuar con nuestra labor educativa. Porfavor, considera unirte s nuestros esfuerzos- TODAS las donaciones serán bienvenidas!

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #6

Preparatory work continues on Pinzon

While the builders are continuing to make excellent progress on the temporary aviaries, we have been checking out the various hawk territories, baiting the hawks at several chosen sites and taking note of who comes in to feed and who doesn't. Often the birds will just come and hang with us on the rocks. The juveniles and sub-adults are particularly curious, and quite willing to settle on a rock just inches away. They actually presented a bit of a problem in one area in which we were very interested in getting the adults down to feed. The juveniles hang in a bit of a horde and move fairly freely around parts of the island. Nine of them came in and sat with us on the peak of the island, preventing us from baiting the adults. Interesting that the adults let the juveniles feed and didn't challenge them. Recognizing this, we stopped putting out any small pieces of meat, at which point the youngsters just tried to go around us and steal directly from our bags. One even accidentally footed me as he tried to grab for some meat - a couple of good punctures in my finger as he briefly tried to carry it away. Eventually, the juveniles tired of waiting and left, at which time we were able to successfully get the adults to feed at the trapping site.

I am often asked about the long-term implications of feeding these hawks in preparation for trapping. The youngsters are beyond the age of imprinting. If this was an island that had tourism or other routine access from humans, I would be much more hesitant about habituating any of them to feed near humans. For now, this is our best option for getting them all safely into captivity. The good news is that once this job is finished, there will be rare humans around the island of Pinzon - it will go back to the giant tortoises and other native fauna. And the hawks will go back to their own ways and hunting for themselves.

More when I can - Juli

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Golden Eagle #53

There is a new addition to the Golden Eagle conservation project we've posted about.  Golden eagle #53 was outfitted with a transmitter in Duluth, MN yesterday. From now on, the GPS transmitter on the the bird will record its position once an hour, enabling Audubon Minnesota to track its location all year long, and perhaps for several years.   You can read the article here.  The project information is here.  If you follow TRC's blog and facebook, you have already started to follow two other golden eagles with transmitters this season.  Mark Martell of Audubon Minnesota has graciously agreed to send maps with data on the birds' travels. 

Frank Nicoletti, director of banding at Hawk Ridge, admires the golden eagle he trapped at the
banding station Monday. The eagle is a male
about 5 years old. After it was banded and
equipped with a radio transmitter,
the bird was released. (Bob King /

The transmitter is mounted on the eagle’s back with a harness that
wraps under its wings. The device records and later transmits
GPS locations to researchers. (Bob King /

A crowd gathers Monday afternoon at Hawk Ridge to watch Mark Martell,
director of bird conservation for Audubon Minnesota,
release the golden eagle trapped
there earlier in the day.
(Bob King /

See TRC at the Mall of America Thursday!

Whisper the barn owl hopes you remember TRC
on Give to the Max Day
The Raptor Center was selected as one of the featured organizations at the November 15 Give to the Max Day event from the Mall of America at 4:45pm. Throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. will have interviews with nonprofit and school leaders and updates on the fundraising day from the South East court in Mall of America. Live video coverage of Give to the Max Day from Mall of America is provided by, a nonprofit, online video news organization.

You can watch TRC at 4:45pm on November 15 on The segment is only 5 minutes, so don't be late!

For the complete Livestream schedule on November 15, visit click here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Busy on Thursday? Schedule Your Gift to TRC for Give to the Max Day!

Nova the Northern Saw-whet owl would love the mice
that can be purchased from Give to the Max
donations on November 15.
We know it's a busy week for everyone.  Maybe you're out of town or in meetings all day Thursday. Maybe you have other events scheduled that day. No problem. Schedule your donation now to TRC for Give to the Max Day and it's done!

Go to our GiveMN page at
Any and all gifts are welcome, and help us more than you can know.
Scheduled donations are eligible for the 12 a.m.-1 a.m. Golden Ticket drawings only. Scheduled

Here is what the screen looks like to make a scheduled gift.

Wed Nov 21 Onsite Program at TRC

Are you looking for a fun idea to do with friends and family in town for the holiday next week?  TRC is offering a public onsite Raptors of Minnesota program Wednesday, Nov 21 at 1:00pm.  They are first come, first served (no RSVP's.)  Adults are $7.50, children and seniors $5.00.  It's a great way for your to spend an hour, and TRC gets to make some new friends, too!  (Click here for directions, etc).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #5

Busy day here - slept all of four (4) hours as we got on the boat at 1:30am, left at 2:00am, and were up for breakfast at 6:00am. We had a group of guardaparques (park guards) come out to unload all the construction materials and everything else, and haul it up to aviary site. Amazing that they had the whole thing unloaded and moved by 10:00am. Construction has been amazing - everything is pre-cut, pre-drilled, numbered like a model and assembling in amazing time. Wish I could send pics, but internet service is very limited now. (From TRC – prior to Dr. Ponder leaving, she and TRC staff sent instructions and plans for the measurements and design for the aviary. As you might guess, TRC has had long experience with structures to keep hawks safe and healthy.)

We were greeted at the aviary site by the local hawk contingent. We fed them to get them accustomed to our trapping site, as at least one had not eaten at the site before. There are two juveniles, one sub-adult and two adults who all spent most of the day with us. I took way too many pictures and finally had to put the camera away so I could work. The juveniles literally stood on the construction materials for quite awhile this afternoon, leading us to suggest we just build the aviaries around them. We probably won't need to trap them – we could just open the door and say "welcome!"

We also prepped the hawk capture boxes (needed some repairs after last time), and set out traps for lava lizards and rats. We prepared the lava lizard housing and organized our gear a bit. It was a very busy day on four hours sleep and I am quite ready to crash on my bunk on the boat.

More when I can - Juli.

From TRC - you can read the background on this project and its mission here. As you might recall, Dr. Ponder talked about the project before she departed.

You can also read the press release about the release of the hawks from the last time Dr. Ponder was in the Galapagos here.

15-15-15 Strategy

We are so grateful for your support throughout the year.  Can you help us on November 15 Give to the Max Day with something that we are calling the “15-15-15 Strategy?” On November 15, send Give to the Max messaging to 15 friends asking them to donate $15 to TRC. With everyone participating, and our donor match, that’s $450 that you can help us raise!  Will you be willing to help us with getting the word out?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzon Journal Entry #4

Having spent the past couple of days in final preparations, it appears that soon we head out! It is time to start capturing the hawks of Pinzon to remove them from harm's way during the upcoming rodent eradication effort.
Loading supplies onto the boat
Where Dr. Ponder will "live" for the next few weeks.  Note the hawk aviary supplies on board.
We had originally planned to depart at a different day, but as our boat needed some minor repairs, we postponed one day. The plan is for us to depart at night. While we sleep (supposedly), the boat will set out and have us on location and ready to go at daybreak. The first few days will be quite busy. The aviaries have been partially constructed off-site and will be assembled at the chosen location. There will be last minute scouting trips to survey hawks and plan the trapping. Luckily, Franny (one of the project leaders) and her colleagues down here have already done a great job of gathering information on the hawks. Thanks to her, we know we can expect about 35 hawks from 8-9 territories, including a large group of juveniles who hang-out in an area away from breeding territories.
Panorama of Academy Bay/Puerto Ayora from the beach at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Note the beach - more lava rock than sand (although there is some sand in places)

Plaque of Lonesome George
As I walked around the Charles Darwin Research Station, where I am staying while in Puerto Ayora, I came across two poignant reminders of why we do invasive rodent eradications on islands. In the tortoise breeding area, there is one pen labeled "Isla Pinzon." This is where the Pinzon tortoises are hatched safe from rodents and raised for 5 years before being released back on the island. You may remember from an earlier post that because of the rodents on Pinzon, no young tortoises have been hatched or survived to breeding age there in over 145 years. Not too far away from the tortoise rearing pens was a memorial plaque outside what used to be Lonesome George's pen. When Lonesome George died last June, his species went extinct as he was the last living Pinta tortoise in the world.
Pinzon tortoise nursery
Baby Pinzon tortoises

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tracking Golden Eagles - Nov 7 Update

Golden eagle (GOEA) 45
Mark Martell of Audubon Minnesota shared recent travels and a map of both GOEA 45 and GOEA 46.  If you will recall from an earlier post, GOEA 46's transmitted was sending information that let us know how he was doing, and what his story was. 

GOEA 45 started sending GPS data again so we are back to tracking her in more detail. She continues to move south but has taken a severe left turn (east) and is now in central Ontario.

GOEA 46 moves slowly and steadily south and is in eastern Manitoba. His path would put him in north central Minnesota.

GOEA 45 movements in red; GOEA 46 in yellow
You can read more about Audubon Minnesota's golden eagle conservation project here

The Raptor Center's clinic census

Sharp-shinned hawk
The Raptor Center has received 726 patients so far this year.  (Last year, we had 699 patients for the whole year!)  We currently have 67 patients. 

Bald eagle   18

Hawks - buteos
Red-tailed hawk   19
Red-shouldered hawk   2
Broad-winged hawk   1

Hawks - accipiters
Sharp-shinned hawk   4
Cooper's hawk   2

Peregrine falcon   3
Merlin   1
American kestrel   1

Northern saw-whet owl   5
Great horned owl   5
Barred owl   4
Short-eared owl   1

Northern Harrier   1

We update our website page weekly, so you can always check in and see what's happening in our clinic. 

If you do find an injured raptor, here is some helpful information.

With our clinic so busy, we appreciate the support of friends like you.  Give to the Max day is coming soon (Nov 15), and your gifts will be matched up to $52,000. 

$50 provides radiographs (commonly called x-rays) for incoming patients to determine injuries.
$ 500 provides for anesthesia and surgery for a bald eagle with a broken wing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzón Journal Entry #3

Boat across Itabaca Canal
 I have arrived safely in Galapagos and begun the preparations. My trip was better than uneventful. I was a bit concerned about having to haul all my equipment on the last leg of the trip. After landing on Baltra Island, one picks up baggage, carries it to a bus, rides the bus to the canal, boards a boat to cross the canal and then finds a taxi after getting everything off the boat. No wheels, no porters, no one for hire... With all my equipment, this section of travel was a bit daunting. Luckily, though, my friends and colleagues not only sent a driver for me, but had him cross over to Baltra and meet me at the airport. How wonderful to have an unexpected second set of hands. Strong ones at that!

Airport bus to Itabaca Canal

The weekend was spent shopping for things that we source locally and helping the rest of the team get things ready. In addition to the hawks, there are mitigation plans for lava lizards and land iguanas - spent much of yesterday helping prepare equipment for those animals as our hawk plan and preparation.

Finch visitor to Dr. Ponder's room

It has been wonderful to be immersed back in Puerto Ayora, seeing old friends from the last time I was here in 2010, meeting some new ones, and seeing the wonderful native wildlife. I just love watching the frigate birds and pelicans at the dock. I saw a short-eared owl carrying a rat (lunch!) and most of the other expected bird species. I left the door to my room open this morning and had a small finch visitor who flew in to check things out. It stayed awhile, then left the way he came. Never any doubt he knew how to get out.

We are preparing for boat departure in the next day or two. Keep the good thoughts coming my way.  I will send more news as I am able. - Juli

(Note from The Raptor Center:  You can read a press release on the project from the University's Academic Health Center (AHC) here.  Special thank you to Mike and Miranda from AHC for a video of Dr. Ponder describing the project here.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Take a Virtual Tour of The Raptor Center

We hope all of you have had a chance to visit us at our St Paul campus of the University of Minnesota location.  If not, here is a chance to see what our center looks like, and take a peek in our clinic, with a virtual tour.

We have public education programs Saturday and Sunday at 1:00pm.  If you are a school, Scout, or other group who would like to schedule a visit, please call us at 612-624-2756.  We'd love to have you!