Friday, February 28, 2014

Update on 40th Raptor Clinic Patient

Thank you to all who posted their best wishes for our 40th clinic patient of the year, an adult female bald eagle from Dakota County.  As you may know, she suffered from lead toxicity, a problem shared by an average of over 30% of the bald eagles admitted annually to our clinic.  Unfortunately, two small lead pellets had been in her stomach long enough to cause permanent damage to her heart, vision, and the function of other body systems.  She did not survive.

We continue to message the importance of lead alternatives in choice of ammunition.  This eagle very likely ingested the lead pellets from a carcass and the lead was then absorbed and circulated throughout her body.

We are deeply grateful for a community committed to helping raptors. A special thanks to those who contact us when an injured raptor is found and, even better, bring it directly to us. Your support of our work truly makes a difference to all of the sick and injured raptors who get a second chance at life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Digital Photography: Owls Workshop at TRC March 8

We had such a great response to our recent digital photography class that we are offering another one.  This class, March 8, will focus on owls as our main subjects.

Basic Information:
Date: Sunday, March 8, 2014
Time: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: The Raptor Center
Cost: $60 (to be paid upon registration; $25 cancellation fee)
Contact: 612-624-4745 or
Class Includes: Short presentation on owls, then hands-on exploration of digital cameras,
and opportunity to photograph TRC’s winged ambassadors.

Flyer for the class is here

Bring own digital SLR camera.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two Bald Eagle Nest Cams to Watch

The Decorah, IA eagles are sitting on at least one egg in their nest, observed this past Sunday (February 23).  Their timing is very similar to last year: the pair were first observed brooding February 19, 2013.  This camera and the great information accompanying it, are courtesy of the Raptor Resource Project.

The Minnesota DNR also has a camera.  The birds had at least two eggs as of February 19.  There is a City Pages article on the pair here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

And TRC's 40th Raptor Clinic Patient Is . . .

Bald eagle patient 14-40 just finished a meal
before this photo was taken. 
Last Thursday was memorable for many of us; it was the biggest snowstorm of the season in the Mpls/St Paul metro area.

It was also when our 40th raptor clinic patient of the year was admitted.  It is an adult female bald eagle from Dakota County.  She exhibited neurological signs that were confirmed to be from lead poisoning.  Radiographs showed two small lead pellets (#4) in her stomach, which were removed by flushing her stomach.  While we are treating her aggressively, her diagnosis is guarded due to an extremely high lead level.

Of the folks who submitted guesses for our 40th Clinic Raptor Patient, one person guessed the correct day (Feb 20) but a different species.  Seven  people guessed the correct species of bald eagle, and two guessed five days before (Feb 15) and one guessed five days after (Feb 25).

Lead poisoning has long been recognized to be a serious problem in bald eagle admitted to The Raptor Center.  Exposure occurs when eagles ingest prey containing pieces of spent lead ammunition.

For more information, see the USGS page on lead in wildlife, or TRCs page on lead poisoning.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Update on 40th TRC Raptor Clinic Patient - Almost There!

We have added just one more patient since our census update Monday.  We are now up to 36 raptor clinic patients.  Your lead guess for the 40th clinic patient is still Red-tailed Hawk!  February 28 is now the lead guess for the date when the 40th patient will be admitted.

If you'd like to submit your guesses, or refine an earlier guess, here is the page.  

Thank you to those who have already helped us kick off TRC's 40th anniversary.  We look forward to more opportunities to celebrate throughout the year.   As always, your support has kept us flying. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Art Class At TRC this Sunday Feb 23

We have a great art class this Sunday at TRC.  We'll explore the use of pencils, techniques for sketching from reference materials, how to transfer sketches, tonal shading theory discussion, and the presentation of textures.  Some of TRC's winged ambassadors will assist with education.

Basic Information:
Date: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: The Raptor Center
Cost: $90
Contact: 612-624-4745 or
Class Includes: Raptor presentation, instruction, and opportunity to exercise skills

Click here to download a pdf of the flyer for the class.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Checking in on Golden Eagle Travels February 2014

Thank you to Audubon Minnesota for an update on the travels of two satellite-backpacked golden eagles.

Eagle 53
Eagle 53 (Jack) is hanging out in the Ozarks on the Missouri/Arkansas border. His locations from last week had him in Baxter County, Arkansas. This is the same area he used last year and some of his locations from last winter exactly overlay the where we have him now.
Eagle 53's travels February 4-10

Eagle 45
Eagle 45 (Jeanette)  is in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, in the same area where we trapped her in the winter of 2012-13 and where she spent last year. Unfortunately her radio signals are getting sporadic which usually means the radio may stop working soon. Hopefully we can get one more spring migration track from her.

Eagle 45's travels Feb 4-10
Audubon Minnesota, the National Eagle Center, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Program, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Endangered Resources Program are involved in a project to increase our understanding of the biology and management needs of golden eagles wintering along the Mississippi River.

The National Eagle Center published the results of their 10th annual golden eagle survey last month. One hundred twelve (112) golden eagles were observed in the study area.  Just 19 of this number were observed to be sub-adults, which was a smaller percentage than in past years.  Here is the webpage for the full survey results.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lunch with Leuc and Mestaae

Leuc the bald eagle dined on rat today, and Mestaae the Eastern screech-owl enjoyed a mouse meal.  The diets of our winged ambassadors include prey items that they would normally choose for themselves if they were in the wild.

Leuc's hatch year was 1980; read his story here.  Many of you who have visited us over the years have made his acquaintance.  He is an important part of TRC's history and education efforts.

Mestaae joined our education staff in 2008.  He is an effective teacher when talking about the differences in small and large raptors being successful with their different prey choices.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Laysan Albatross Cam

Screen shot of the nest cam. 
Bird cams are a way to learn something about a species' life at the nest, as well as glimpse some of the natural challenges they face.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Nest Cam of a Laysan Albatross on the island of Kauai is one to check out.  The chick hatched January 27 and weighed less than a glass of water!  By July, this chick will have a seven-foot wingspan.  To raise their chick, the two parents will range across the Pacific, traveling as far as Alaska or Japan to bring back meals of digested squid.
Screen shot of the nest cam.

Wisdom, from USFWS Pacific Region
This species of bird made the news in 2011.  The oldest banded wild bird currently known is a member of this species.  "Wisdom" is at least 62 years old.  She has nested on the Midway Atoll since 2008.  In March of 2011, her nest was in the path of the tsunami that devastated the area. We are happy to report that she has a new egg as of November 29, 2013, exactly one year and one day since she laid her last egg!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Raptor Watching Ethics

Parts of the United States are experiencing an influx of snowy owls this winter season.  Minnesota is experiencing a small part of the increased presence .  We understand the excitement and awe that many have to see these owls up close.  However, please remember that these ghostly visitors can easily be affected by our actions.  All of us play a role in true conservation.

We’d like to share some resources and information to make the experience of watching wild raptors a good experience for all involved:
  • View wildlife from a safe distance for both you and them.  If the animal interrupts its behavior (resting, feeding, etc.), then you are too close and must distance yourself.

    Never crowd, pursue, prevent escape, make deliberate noises to distract, startle or harass wildlife. The impact is cumulative. Consider that you may be the 65th person to yell “hey bird, etc.” at that animal that day while it’s attempting to tend to its young.

    ·         Never feed or leave food (baiting) for wildlife. Habituation due to handouts can result in disease or even death of that animal and injury to you.
  •      Do not enter private property without permission of the landowner. 

  •      Stay on roads, trails and paths where they exist; keep habitat disturbance to a minimum and acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem.

    ·         Respect the routine needs of animals—remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too. The welfare of the subject and habitat are irrefutably more important than the photograph.  Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals - if the animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens.
North American Nature Photography Association Principles of Ethical Field Practices:
Audubon Pacific Flyway Audublog Bird Photography Code of Ethics:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Information on Utah Bald Eagle Deaths

Utah state wildlife officials recently announced that the National Wildlife Health Center (USGS) has confirmed that the recent die-off of eagles there is the result of West Nile virus infection. It appears that the eagles were exposed to the virus through scavenging among over 20,000 dead eared grebes found along the Great Salt Lake shoreline. Over 50 bald eagles have been confirmed dead and more carcasses are expected to be found. West Nile virus infection was also identified as the cause of death in the eared grebes, a species not previously recorded with the disease.

Since West Nile virus was first identified in Minnesota in 2002, The Raptor Center has documented 11 cases of infection in eagles. The situation in Utah this winter raises the question of where the grebes were exposed to the virus, which is traditionally considered to be mosquito-borne. The question of exposure of the eagles through scavenging also raises questions not previously considered critical.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Study on predicting falcon hunting techniques

Here is an interesting study (and video) that looked at predicting just how falcons approached their prey in the air.