Monday, June 27, 2016

Raptor Lab at The Raptor Center

For the past two years, 14 teachers have been actively piloting the Raptor Lab in their classrooms.  The Raptor Lab is an online learning environment which models the process of scientific investigation in real-world settings.  Students use active role playing to assume a scientific career in wildlife rehabilitation.  This educational partnership between The Raptor Center and the University of Minnesota’s Learning Technologies Media Lab was funded by a grant from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. 

Recently, nine of those teachers came together to participate in a final workshop to evaluate the Raptor Lab, and ensure that it meets the needs of both teachers and students.  
Jennifer Clemmerson and Allison Fasking, two teachers at Prior Lake’s Twin Oaks Middle School, are already planning on having the Raptor Lab replace their current curriculum on teaching the process of scientific investigation.  In addition, the curriculum will be expanded to two additional classrooms in Hidden Oaks (a sister middle school to Twin Oaks) and will reach more than 600 7th graders in the Prior Lake area.  Overall, the Raptor Lab was used by over 1,000 students with numerous teachers lining up to help pilot the curriculum next year.  Our hope is to see this number double for the 2016 – 2017 school year.  

It has been a very exciting two years watching the Raptor Lab develop and be used by teachers and students in the classroom.  The final curriculum will be finished this summer for use for the start of the next school year.  As this program grows we hope students throughout Minnesota and the Midwest will have the opportunity to use the Raptor Lab to learn firsthand about threats facing wildlife and our shared environments and what they can do to be part of the solution.

If you are a teacher and interested in this project, contact Mike Billington at

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hear From TRC Former Clinical Intern Ernesto Domínguez Villegas

Dr. Ernesto Dominguez Villegas, from Mexico, recently completed his clinical internship at The Raptor Center.  While he was here, he worked on a cardiology project looking the hearts of eagles that have been exposed to lead.

He graciously wrote a few lines about this time here at TRC.  We know he will continue to do amazing things, and wish him the very best. 

What I enjoyed?
I enjoyed the everyday working with so many different raptor species. I enjoyed working with great volunteers that they were always willing to share their knowledge and experience. I enjoyed doing clinical and research work to improve our world thru avian and raptor medicine.

What I learned?
Ohh boy!! That is a tough question. I learned so much that is difficult to have a start point. But I think I can summarize all my learning saying that I learned looking at the ecosystem and conservation medicine as a whole. I learned that every patient we admitted is a tiny sample of what is happening outside in our world, and in the ecosystem. Every patient showed us how much we have changed nature, how polluted is the ecosystem, how diseases behave, spread and get controlled in the wild. I learned that wildlife medicine is not just about treating individuals, it is about treating the ecosystem, educate people and do research to improve ecosystem, animal and human health.

What surprised me?
The amount of bald eagles we treated. I was surprised about how many eagles we admit, treat and rehab per year. 

What would I do with the knowledge?
First of all share it. Share it with my colleagues, friends, kids, new and old generations. Second continue improving the knowledge by continue doing research and continue learning about wildlife medicine. 

My time at TRC was just wonderful. It was not just a veterinary experience, it was a life experience. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Peregrine Parents

We have celebrated peregrine falcon chicks recently, but we thought we should highlight the peregrine parents.

The site at the Colonnade building has hosted peregrine families since first nesting attempt in 1991.  The female there is Loree, whose band is b/g 49/E.  She was hatched in 2003, in Monticello, MN.  She has been at this site since 2005 and has been the parent to 41 chicks.

These photos show a pigeon that the male brought to her, and she then brought to the three chicks for lunch, who were banded yesterday.

You can see the b/g 49/E band.
The tenants of Colonnade and their families learned about
the history of this important site, and "their" birds.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Class of 2016 Peregrine Chicks at 33 S. 6th Street

Peregrine chick, with both the project and federal
leg bands.

Four peregrine chicks were banded yesterday at a site in downtown Minneapolis, which has had the names of Multifoods Center, City Center, and currently 33 S. 6th Street.   This site is historically very important to the Midwest peregrine falcon restoration project.  It was the first urban site to host a “hack box” of peregrine chicks, and the first Minnesota site since the 1960s to produce a wild-hatched peregrine that would fledge successfully. In 1985, Dr. Harrison “Bud” Tordoff and Dr. Patrick T. Redig, co-founder of The Raptor Center, approached the building management team at 33 South 6th Street to inquire about putting a “hack box" (also known as a "release box") on the roof. This release box would house young captive-bred peregrine chicks that would be the start of a reintroduction of the species.

The arrow shows where the nest box is.

This year, there were new adults at the site.  The previous male was found dead in spring, presumed to be from injuries related to a territory dispute.  The new male is Triumph, b/r 58/P, a 2013 hatch from the Mayo Building in Rochester, MN.  The new female, who had previously been at another site in downtown Minneapolis, is b/r 22/X, from a building on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota.
The public was invited to attend.  There were lots of questions!

RC staff provide leadership, technical advice, and administrative support for the Midwest Peregrine Society, which includes 13 Midwest states and two Canadian provinces.

The history of the Midwest peregrine restoration project, as well as a searchable database for the public to look up individual birds, sites and states, is here.