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

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.

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