Thursday, February 28, 2013

NYT Article on Owls

This New York Times article looks at research done on several owl species.  We would like to highlight the work done by Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia program.  He is specifically looking at Blakiston’s fish owl.  Nearly a yard high, weighing up to 10 pounds and with a wingspan of six feet, it is the world’s largest owl.  Jonathan came to TRC and worked with us to learn how to safely handle wild raptors.  Dr. Ponder also showed him how to put on a harnass that is used for satellite transmitters. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TRC Raptor Patient Clinic Census Feb 25, 2013

Great horned owl patient
The Raptor Center has received 59 patients so far in 2013.  We currently have 57 patients.  Some are in individual patient cages while their injuries heal.  Others are in large flight rooms or outside in the rehabilitation courtyard for exercise before their release. The following table shows the patient census by species:

The Raptor Center
Current Patient Census
(as of February 25, 2013) 


            Bald Eagle 11
Hawks - Buteos
            Red-tailed Hawk 15
            Broad-winged Hawk 1
            Rough-legged Hawk 1
Hawks - Accipiters
            Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
            Northern Goshawk 1
            Cooper's Hawk 0
            American Kestrel 3
            Peregrine Falcon 1
            Merlin 1
            Gyrfalcon 0
           Great Horned Owl 4
           Short-eared Owl 1
           Northern Saw-whet Owl 2
           Barred Owl 8
           Eastern screech-owl 2
           Snowy Owl 0
           Boreal Owl 2
           Great Gray Owl 1
          Long-eared Owl 1

You can check on our census weekly from our website page here.  If you find an injured raptor, here are some things to keep in mind

As always we couldn't do this without your help.  Please consider a gift to The Raptor Center.  The birds thank you! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

From Antarctica to Afghanistan, bird watchers from 103 countries made history in the first global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 15-18, 2013. In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird watchers set new records, counting more than 25.5 million birds on 120,000+ checklists in four days -- and recording 3,144 species, nearly one-third of the world's total bird species.
  • Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch.
  • Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot.
  • Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
  • Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy's landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.

    You can read a write-up on Science Daily here

Monday, February 25, 2013

Young Raptor Enthusiasts at TRC

TRC recently had the honor to meet two very knowledgeable and enthusiastic young learners.  They came prepared with their interests displayed on their shirts, as you can see.  The oldest child was a big fan of peregrines and shared what he knew, including a very good imitation of a peregrine call.  Their parents told us that they shared their new knowledge once they returned home after their visit.

We thank their parents and friends for encouraging and making their learning possible.  We love sharing this wonderful story that a lifelong journey of discovering raptors can start early.  We hope that they come back often to see us, and say hello to their winged ambassador "friends" at TRC, too!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Juneau the Peregrine Takes a Bath

Juneau the peregrine dipped her face in her bath pan,
and used her head to "toss" water up over her back. 
She also crouched down to give her "undercarriage" a bath.
During the winter months, we periodically bring our education winged ambassadors indoors from the education courtyard.  It gives us an opportunity to clean and maintain their mews, and we give the birds some fresh water and a choice to bathe indoors.  Juneau the peregrine enjoyed her bath recently.  Afterwards, she preened her feathers.

Juneau is one of our education ambassadors who is a part of our Adopt a Raptor program.  Your gifts to "adopt" Juneau will help  feed, house, and provide medical care for these education stars, who because of extensive injuries cannot be released back into the wild.

Juneau preened her feathers, an important part of a bird's attention to their care.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February Check-In on Golden Eagles

Golden eagle 45 map

Mark Martell of Audubon, Minnesota sent us the latest maps of the recent travels for golden eagles with satellite transmitters.  You can find information on the project at Audubon's site, as well as National Eagle Center's site.  (And you can follow the eagles yourself on Audubon's interactive map.)

Golden Eagle 45 – Jeanette, has been using the west-central part of Waupaca County in Wisconsin. This is the same county she was trapped in last year in the same general area. She started moving north in Feb 16 in 2012, but this was immediately after she was trapped. It will be interesting to see what she does this year.

Golden eagle 46 map
Golden Eagle 46 – Had Wah-pe, is hanging very tight to an area in the Whitewater IBA (Important Bird Are) in Winona County, Minnesota. This is the same area he used all last winter. A field crew from Audubon Minnesota and the National Eagle Center were able to locate and see Eagle 46 last week.

Golden eagle 53 map
Golden Eagle 53 – Jack, is still in Ozark County, Missouri near the border of Arkansas. Like the birds that winter in MN and WI he is using an area that is a mix of agriculture and wooded hillsides. He has been in this area since Christmas.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Youth Raptor Corps - Raptor Riddles

Our youth service-learning club, Youth Raptor Corps, have almost concluded their 2012-2013 sessions.  They chose to demonstrate their learning by creating YouTube videos that will teach others.  In small groups, the students researched a particular raptor and chose several facts to highlight in riddle form. Then, using IPads, they recorded their facts and added background music.You can go here to listen to the riddles (six in all). 

The Raptor Center is proud to give these outstanding young people an opportunity to learn about their shared environment with raptors, and we appreciate their efforts to find new ways to educate their peers.  We want to thank our own volunteers for their guidance in running this very special program.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

World's Oldest-Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick

Have you ever wondered what age wild birds can reach? A wild Laysan albatross is believed to be at least 62 years old!  She has hatched a chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge for the sixth consecutive year.  How do we know her age? She was first banded in 1956, when she was incubating an egg in the same area of the refuge. She was at least five years old at the time.

Bird banding is a way to use individual identification to study dispersal and migration, behavior and social structure, life-span and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth.  You can use the Bird Banding Lab's website to look up the oldest known wild birds from banding records, among other things. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Summer Camps at The Raptor Center

It's not too early to start thinking about summer learning adventures!  You can now sign up for the many great Raptor Camps we offer this summer.  We integrate hands-on learning activities with our science-based curriculum, and our winged ambassadors make great teachers.

We offer the following camps: 

  • Grossology for ages 8-9 and 10-11, July 29-August 2
  • Wizarding World of Wildlife for ages 8-9, August 5-9, and ages 10-11 and 12-15 June 10-14
  • Raptor Vet for ages 9-11 and 12-15, July 8-12
  • Crazy About Owls for ages 6-7, July 22-26
  • Enraptured with Raptors for ages 6-7 and 8-9, July 15-19

The main information and registration site is here.  It is part of Kids' University through the University of Minnesota's Rec Sports Department.  You can click on each camp topic listed above on the page. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Goshawks Program on the Smithsonian Channel this Weekend

Catch a great show on goshawks this weekend on the Smithsonian channel.  Learn about the species' natural biology and history by following them hunt, raise a family, and survive. 

New Owl Species in Indonesia

A new owl species, first encountered by researchers in 2003 in Lombok Indonesia, is formally described

The "common" owl is the first endemic bird species recorded on the island of Lombok.

New research is showing that previously-thought subspecies of owls, for example, might actually be distinctly different species.  One researcher pointed out that in the past, ornithologists and birdwatchers have largely ignored the island because, unlike Java, Bali, Flores and other islands in the region, no bird species were (thought to be) unique to it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

TRC at St Paul Audubon Meeting Tonight to Talk Peregrines

If you don't have plans tonight, we invite you to see TRC staff speak at the February meeting of the St Paul Audubon Society.  We'll cover the history of the restoration efforts of the peregrine falcon in the Midwest, and specifically the contributions of our co-founder Dr. Patrick Redig.  We'll also look at how the 2012 season went, and tell some stories about some very special specific birds.  Time is 7:00pm, and location is the Fairview Community Center, 1910 W. County Road B, Roseville, MN.   Free and open to the public. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Great Backyard Bird Count This Weekend

The 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count will take place this Friday, February 15, through Monday, February 18.

This annual four-day event engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.  Everyone is welcome--from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.  Participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period.

This is a great activity for families to do together, as well as engage young people in learning about their shared environment with birds.