Thursday, May 25, 2017

Peregrine Falcon Chicks Banded at Wells Fargo

Two male chicks were banded at the Wells Fargo building in Bloomington, MN yesterday.  The female is fourteen-year-old b/g 30/E Speedy, hatched 2003 at the King plant in Bayport, MN, and the male is b/g D/32 MPR2, a 2004 hatch from City Center (33. S. 6th Street) in Minneapolis. The Wells Fargo site has been active since 1997.
Two bands are placed on the legs of each chick; one is a federal USFWS band.  The other is a bi-color band, recognized as a project band, and can be read with a scope or binoculars.  Chicks are banded at about 21 days of age (the Wells Fargo chicks are banded a little younger).  The legs are the size they will be as adults, even though the chicks are not their full adult weight.  The bands are used to identify the birds and provide information many aspects of peregrine falcon biology, including population and distribution, age, and site specifics.

TRC 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. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Great Horned Owlet Gets Help from TRC

We'd like to share a story about a baby raptor patient that got some help from TRC.   If this spring and summer is like most, we will see more than 120 young raptors that will need our expertise.  Will you help The Raptor Center care for and treat these young birds? Please make a springtime gift to our baby shower fund. If TRC can raise $20,000 by Friday, June 16, TRC  board of advisor member, Teresa Daly and her husband Greg Konat, will contribute $5,000 to help baby raptors.
Great horned owlet in new nest in TRC's clinic.

This is the owlet after being settled into new
nest and tree.
As you may already know, owls do not build their own nests. They may move into a stick nest used by crows or hawks the previous year, or they may find a suitable tree cavity in which to lay their eggs.

Previously used stick nests are usually sufficient to support the female while she incubates the eggs*, but as the youngsters grow, the nest can no longer support the increased activity and youngsters often come out prematurely. Strong spring storms and spring landscaping, such as tree removal, add to the challenges nestling owls may face.

This little great horned owlet (first photo) was found in a Minneapolis metro yard after its nest structure was blown down by high winds. Terry Headley, one of TRC’s volunteers, constructed a new nest that would be sturdy and provide proper drainage during our wet spring season. The owlet was placed in the structure in TRC’s treatment room to ensure its new nest was the correct size.

Terry then transported the owlet back to its Minneapolis home. After securing the new nest to a tree, she took a quick photo (second photo) and left so the owl family could be reunited. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rockford Middle School Visits The Raptor Center

The Raptor Center hosted Rockford Middle School recently.  The students engaged in several hands-on learning opportunities such as meeting our clinical staff and learning what it is like to do a physical exam of a raptor patient, how to use data from bald eagle patients with lead in their systems, and how DDT affected peregrine falcon populations.
Interpretive Naturalist Mike Billington talked about
bald eagle patients and lead data from TRC's clinic.

Interpretive Naturalist Dan Hnilicka and Artemis the peregrine
falcon talked about how DDT affected the falcon population.

The students found out how much weight a healthy egg
shell can support.

These visits are part of an ongoing curriculum integration program to create opportunities for schoolchildren to deepen their engagement with environmental topics.  Rockford Middle School was the first to partner with The Raptor Center.  Over the past six years we have partnered together, instructors have shared the impacts these multiple-visits have had on their students.  Students learn critical scientific investigation skills presented as part of the integration program, as well as applications for real-world problem solving within environmental frameworks.  The Raptor Center has appeared at events that Rockford hosts for parents and community members to view and experience the events taking place at the school.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Changing the World - From the Netherlands to St Paul, MN

Zoë prepares to release a rehabilitated
bald eagle patient back into the wild.
Our final guest blogger to help us celebrate International Migratory Bird Day is Zoë Plaats, a veterinary student from the Netherlands’ Utrecht University.  She just finished a three-month research project at TRC to correlate blood lead levels with traumatic injuries in bald eagles.  We thank her for her contributions to understanding connections with birds, humans and the environment we share, and look forward to staying in touch.

“A day in which you can make a difference for migrating birds across the country; how exciting! As a master veterinary student from Utrecht (the Netherlands) international migratory bird day is something new to me. The Netherlands is the final destination for most migrating birds we see over there so helping the birds during their migration is usually not necessary. To make up for that we have different national bird events to keep track of the birds or to help them out such as a national backyard bird count or providing additional food sources especially during fall and winter time. Educational demonstrations of raptors specific to raise awareness for them are also given in different places in the Netherlands, however they are not as big as the program here at The Raptor Center!

Now to come back on migratory bird day, I must say that it makes me very excited that such an international event for helping birds exists!  It is a great thing to realize that everyone no matter what age is capable of helping birds even with just small amounts of effort, which this day is actually all about. Providing additional resources at stopover sites can make a huge difference for migrating birds, so make sure to look into that! It is really exciting to see everyone contributing to this and that together we can make their long journey a bit easier. Isn’t it great to realize that you made a difference for an animal?

Personally I think birds have amazed all of us at least once in our life. Imagine the first time you saw a bird up close as a child and watch it fly away high in the sky; maybe making you even wonder what it would be like to be able to fly yourself. My own interest in birds started when I was around 7 years old and was helping my father, who worked as a falconer back then, during demonstrations. It is really amazing to see how different they are compared to us mammals and how fascinating each of them look; either bright colored or barely noticeable in between the trees. I must admit that their ability to fly still amazes me the most.

I’m really excited, especially as a veterinary student, that so many people take an interest in helping the birds in their environment and this is something that we should keep encouraging! Our wildlife is a legacy from this planet and something we have to protect. Since many things are also changing in the environment of birds, for example increasing urbanization, they may also need some extra help and that is where you can come in! Providing water baths, extra food sources, bird boxes for nesting or shelter can make a difference for birds. It is also possible to contact local bird organizations in case you have any questions about possible ways to help. Make sure to try your best in helping our wildlife and encouraging other people to do so as well, so we can keep enjoying the pretty sight of birds flying through the sky or hearing them chirp in the early mornings (although I must admit the chirping can sometimes be a non-welcome wake up call in the weekends but nevertheless we still love them)!”