Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Technology and Teaching at TRC

Dr. Ponder uses our digital radiograph for teaching.
Harmon the bald eaglet radiograph.
As you know, TRC loves to find ways to incorporate sustainability, efficiency and new technology in our teaching and care for raptors.  Our digital radiograph machine, purchased with funds raised in a matching gift campaign provided by the Katherine B. Andersen Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, is a great example of this.  We use it with our clinic patients every day.  Not only does it eliminate the need to create and store radiograph films, but it also makes it possible for us to send and receive images that help in consultations with colleagues.  We can get almost immediate images of raptor patients that aid us as we determine steps in the care plans for each patient. It is also very useful as we train the next generation of veterinary students and animal health professionals.

You might remember the radiograph we showed of Harmon the bald eaglet.  (You can see the areas of soft tissue swelling.)   This helped us determine the extent of any injuries, so we could treat him and get him back to his nest.

Here is a radiograph of a short-eared owl patient.  Can you spot the injury?  (Look to the wing area marked as the right side.)

Another bit of information that we can see from radiographs is the existence of spent lead ammunition in the system of bald eagles.  (You can see the fragments in the bird's stomach.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TRC Clinic Patient Census July 29, 2013

There were 14 new Cooper's hawk patients admitted this week.
It seems to be an even busier baby season at TRC than last year, and that was a very busy time!  Instead of just posting our clinic patient census for this week, we'd also like to post some comparisons to last year at this time (we checked - it is busier!)

July 1 - 282 patients
July 29 - 400 patients (118 admitted just in July!)

July 1 - 348 patients (already 66 more than last year at this time!)
July 29 - 481 patients (133 admitted just in July!)

Just from last week to this week of 2013 (July 22 - 29) we added 51 patients.

The Raptor Center
Current Patient Census 
(as of July 29, 2013)  


            Bald Eagle13
Hawks - Buteos
            Red-tailed Hawk22
            Broad-winged Hawk3
            Red-shouldered Hawk1
Hawks - Accipiters
            Sharp-shinned Hawk1
            Northern Goshawk0
            Cooper's Hawk20
            American Kestrel6
            Peregrine Falcon1
           Great Horned Owl16
           Short-eared Owl0
           Northern Saw-whet Owl1
           Barred Owl5
           Eastern Screech-owl0
           Snowy Owl0
           Boreal Owl0
           Great Gray Owl0
           Long-eared Owl1
Others (Osprey)0
Others (Turkey Vulture)1

Why is this?  Many young raptors are just starting to leave their nests.  They are encountering disease, structures such as windows and buildings, starvation, and other difficulties that challenge all wild birds.

Will you please consider helping us with their food and medical care "bills?"  A gift in any amount will help us continue be there for these birds that we all enjoy and value so much. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Watch a Video of Ricke the Great Horned Owl Eating a Mouse

We wanted to share a video of Ricke the great horned owl having his lunch.  It is a great way to talk about natural behavior for this species. 

Owls often eat their prey whole, including bones and fur.  The unneeded solid waste is what results in pellets, which are regurgitated.  (You can order pellets here.)

In the video, Ricke is offered a mouse, which is a natural prey item.  Watch (and listen!) as Ricke flips his head to re-orient the mouse.  There is less resistance as the mouse is swallowed if it is turned so the mouse's nose, and therefore its legs, body and way the hair coat grows, is turned towards the inside of the owl's mouth.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Update - Mestaae's New Home

We hope you enjoyed reading about our planning for Mestaae the eastern screech-owl's new housing.  We wanted to share another chapter in the ongoing planning. 

As Mestaae settled into his "habitat", we noticed that he was not easily reaching the uppermost perch after he had been down to his bath pan, or engaged in other activities lower in his enclosure.  Our staff and volunteers got to work in creating more perches, at different heights and intervals, to make it easier for him to "travel" vertically.  You can see that we also used different perch surfaces to ensure that his feet stayed healthy. 

We also have constructed a tree "cavity" for him, complete with perch inside.  This is to encourage a very natural behavior for his species, which is to spend time within a cavity either roosting or in the wild, raising young.  It also
Mestaae's new perches,
leading up from the floor of his enclosure.
gives him a choice to be "out of the public", and have some quiet time for himself.  This is very important for his mental, as well as physical, health.

We will continue to share Mestaae's (and our!) adventures in learning.  Our approach to using adaptive management for our education winged ambassadors ensures that they get the best possible care.  

Mestaae's cavity and another perch on "his tree".

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Turkey Vultures

We'd like to thank the Cannon Falls Beacon for allowing us to share this photo, taken recently in that area by them.  
Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) are amazing animals. They are one of nature's recyclers by being a scavenger and eating carrion. Turkey vultures commonly dine and roost together at night.
Turkey vultures will roost in trees in large numbers but a human made structure like the antennae pictured will do in a pinch. Luckily each one only weighs in at about 3-4 pounds!
Turkey vultures are the only vulture currently that makes Minnesota their summer home. These birds make their way in the fall to the southern states and into Central and South America.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Owl Pellets for Sale at TRC

Owl pellets are formed when owls swallow their prey whole, then cast a pellet out of their mouths 12 to 24 hours later. The pellet contains the indigestible bones and fur of the prey.

They make a wonderful learning tool that can be used to introduce students to comparative skeletal anatomy, concepts of natural history, and ecology and predator/prey relationships. A great in-class activity before or after your visit to The Raptor Center!  It's not too early to start planning fall class activities. 

You can order pellets from our website here.   Please note: while "manufacturing activities" by our TRC owls are constant, we cannot "enforce quotas."  The sooner we know you have a need, the easier it is for us to fill your order.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Christmas in July Sale at TRC Ends Soon!

If you've visited us in the past week, you know that we have sale-priced some of our popular items such as T-shirts, plush owls, and other fun things!  The sale is only in our TRC gift shop and runs through tomorrow.  Please come visit us!  (Directions can be found on our website).

TRC Thanks You

TRC wants to thank each of you for sharing in our stories; for sharing your own stories with us; your time in volunteering; and your generous gifts to keep supporting us and our work. We want you to know how much all of it is appreciated.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Update on Former TRC Bald Eagle Patient

We report some news on a former TRC bald eagle patient.  In May, we shared the story of two eagles being found on the ground near Duluth, MN, most likely in a territorial fight (see stories here and here).  While one bird was able to fly away, the other was injured (soft tissue and talon punctures) and was brought to our clinic.   We released the bird in early June along the St Croix River. 

On Monday evening, the male eagle was found dead, ensnared in fishing line along the St. Louis River.  The bird was identified by the USFWS band that was placed on the bird's leg before release.  This banding activity has yielded much information about topics such as dispersal, longevity, and toxicology to name just a few.  In addition it does inform us on what happens to individual birds upon release.

A message we would like to share is to
please be responsible as you enjoy recreational activities.  Please make every effort to bring home everything you bring with you.  Be aware that unintended consequences can happen.  Most fishing line is not biodegradable, so it will persist long after the season it was introduced into the environment. 

Pi the Bald Eagle has Lunch!

Pi the bald eagle, one of TRC's winged ambassadors, enjoys a lunch of northern pike in this video. It was brought in by a TRC Volunteer. 

An eagle's beak is very sharp and perfect for "cutting up" their food. You will also notice how he adjusts his balance as he rips smaller pieces.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Urban Peregrines

One of the peregrine chicks fledged from the City Center/Multifoods/33 S. 6th Street location recently paid a visit to the 11th floor of the Macy's building on Nicollet and 7th (thanks to Ike Whiting for sending the photos, and to our friends at Target who connected us to share this story.)  

From the leg bands on the bird, we can tell you that this bird was banded as a female on June 20 (see our blog story with photos of the chicks here.)  The urban population of peregrines has thrived since the restoration of the species (see the history here.)  

The concept of windows are often a challenge for all birds; glass is something that can be seen through, but cannot be flown through.  This bird appears to be navigating the office window in the photos.  We hope she continues to incorporate her understanding as she learns to live and hopefully thrive in her urban environment.

As most of our followers and friends know, the Midwest Peregrine Society is housed at The Raptor Center.  TRC staff provide leadership, technical advice and administrative support for the project, which includes 13 Midwest states and two Canadian provinces.  The history of the project, as well as a searchable database for the public to look up individual birds, sites and state information, is here.  We hope to have information from this current season into the database soon. 

We can all follow the story of peregrine falcons, in urban as well as cliff homes, through the advent of technology like nest cams.  The Midwest Peregrine Society and TRC are proud to continue the work of monitoring and educating the public on these magnificent birds and their success.