Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Can We Tell Our Red-Tailed Hawks Apart?

Alula and Jamaica are both red-tailed hawks, and part of our winged ambassador staff at The Raptor Center.  Obviously, staff and volunteers need to know how to tell them apart from one another.  They are very close in weight; today, only about 5 grams difference!

Can you do it?

Can you see the difference in the "belly bands?"  These are the dark feathers right at about the "belly" area.  Alula's is a bit more defined and continuous, and Jamaica's is a little less defined. 

How about the feathers right above the eyes?  Alula's "brow" is again just a little more defined in almost a line.

Anything else you can see?

Friday, March 27, 2015

What You Can Do to Help Baby Raptors

What You Can Do to Help Baby Raptors
We are so pleased that many of our friends not only share our love of raptors and desire to learn more about them, but also want to do whatever they can to help. In Minnesota, great horned owlets will soon be the first raptor babies of the season to take their first steps on a branch. As the spring and summer arrive, more raptor babies will be vulnerable to weather and the inevitable challenges of sharing their territories with humans.

Below are five things that YOU can do to help raptors.
1) Help Us Find Nests for Youngsters. It is critical to get uninjured baby raptors back to either their own parents, or to foster them into another family of their species as quickly as possible. We cannot raise them as successfully as wild parents can! If you are in the Minnesota/Dakotas/Wisconsin area you can help by letting us know about active raptor nests. Then, if we need to foster a youngster into a new nest, we will have some on file to choose from to make the best match. Contact Lori Arent, our Clinic Manager, at arent@umn.edu

2) Cap Your Chimney. Cavity nesting species, like several species of owls, can get trapped in what they perceive to be a welcoming cavity – a chimney. The birds can’t free themselves, often get injured while trying to escape, and become malnourished if stuck for more than a few days. Make sure that if you have a chimney it is properly fitted with a cap. Local chimney companies can provide that service. Many of the chimneys in question have smooth pipe on the inside, making them uninhabitable for chimney swifts, as well as impossible for other animals who investigate them to get out. 

3) Don’t Cut Down Your Trees. If you need tree work to be done, schedule it so it does not conflict with the nesting season of birds and mammals that may inhabit them. People are often unaware of the wildlife that calls their property “home”.

4) Take Down Those Nets After You Play! One challenge for raptors living in urban settings is entrapment in soccer nets. Every year, TRC admits several great horned owls that are injured after they get entangled in these nets. How does this happen? At night, the owls chase mice, rabbits or other prey items that are able to slip through the nets, but the owls can’t. They get caught by their wings and/or legs and struggle for hours in an attempt to free themselves before someone finds them. Their injuries are often serious, as netting cuts off the blood supply to the appendage that is caught, and sometimes the birds cannot be saved. If you have a soccer net in your back yard and it is not collapsible, please consider investing in a more environmentally-friendly net. Share this info with your local schools and parks. We know that no one intends for these injuries or loss of life to happen to our feathered “friends.”
5) Be Sure That Baby Needs Help! Baby raptors often do not have successful first attempts to fly. Some might end up on the ground. It is normal for youngsters to take some time to re-orient, and their watchful parents are very likely nearby. If you suspect that a baby raptor might need some assistance, here is some important advice: 

Do not pick the youngster up. Please call TRC if you are in our area, or your own local rehabilitators, for consultation. Taking a photo from a safe distance will help determine if the bird does indeed need a trip to the clinic for aid, or perhaps just needs some space and time.

Please do not feed any raptors, baby or adults. Humans cannot easily provide the crucial, nutrient rich diet items for quickly-developing raptor babies, and it takes away from the parents' bonding activities with their young. If a raptor might need care from our clinic, it is important that they not have been fed before they arrive. (Below see the photo of a barred owl baby, who did need some assistance.)

Thank you to the public and agencies who care enough to let us know about these youngsters. If you are in doubt as to how to help if you see a young raptor, again please call us at 612-624-4745.
Please consider forwarding this link/story to friends. Education is one of our best resources to help young raptors.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Raptor Center Salutes Some Young Civics Leaders

The Raptor Center wanted to share a story with you.  We wanted to highlight some young people -  fourth graders at Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, N.H - who cared enough about a topic to go those extra miles in learning, and then putting education into action. 

Many thanks to Principal Mark Deblois for the background:
All fourth graders in New Hampshire are required to cover New Hampshire history.  As they were learning the state symbols, these students realized that while New Hampshire does have a state bird – the purple finch – it does not have a state raptor.  Several of the students in the class gave up their snack and recess time to do some research on the best choice to represent their state.  They decided that the red-tailed hawk is not only a commonly seen raptor in the state, but it was also a highly resilient bird, and they felt it was a good representative of New Hampshire. 

Local state representatives talked the students through the process of how a bill is created and moves toward becoming a law.  The students, accompanied by a red-tailed hawk education bird from the New Hampshire Audubon Society, testified before the Agriculture & Environment Committee.  By a vote of 10-8 the bill was labeled as "Ought to Pass" and was sent on to the full New Hampshire House of Representatives for debate.  While the House failed to pass their bill, the story is such a great example of civics in action.  The students set out to learn more for themselves, to educate others, and we applaud them for their efforts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TRC - Coming to a Site Near You?

The (mostly!) warmer weather means that The Raptor Center is busy with requests for a variety of events.  Our winged ambassadors and interpretive naturalists bring truly one-of-a-kind experiences to your library, community center, school and other locations.

Our Google Public Events Calendar at the bottom of our News and Events page shows events that we will appear at.  Here are two examples of upcoming events in April - in Kimball, MN, and in Litchfield, MN

If you'd like to book a program at your site, you can reach our scheduling department at 612-624-2756, or email raptored@umn.edu.

See you soon!

Friday, March 20, 2015

TRC Clinic Raptor Patient Census March 16, 2015

A great horned owl patient.
We have received 79 wild patients so far in 2015.  We currently have 58 patients.  Some are in individual patient cages while their injuries heal.  Others are in large flight rooms or in managed areas for exercise before their release. You can see our patient census weekly here.

The following table shows the patient census by species:

The Raptor Center
Current Patient Census
(as of March 16, 2015) 
            Bald Eagle
            Golden Eagle
Hawks - Buteos
            Red-tailed Hawk
            Broad-winged Hawk
Hawks - Accipiters
            Northern Goshawk
            Cooper's Hawk

            American Kestrel

           Great Horned Owl
           Northern Hawk-owl
           Northern Saw-whet Owl
           Barred Owl
           Eastern Screech-owl
           Snowy Owl
           Long-eared Owl
Others (Turkey Vulture)