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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Raptor Center 2012 Fall Release

Went down to Hastings, MN for The Raptor Center's 2012 Fall Release program at the Carpenter Nature Center September 22, 2012. Bird releases are a good way for the average person to get some awesome views of raptors which are rarely seen at close range. For us it was special in that one of the bald eagles being released this day was a rescue we had done August 24 near Winsted, MN.

The Winsted eagle was a male and the last release of the day. A little on the story is I got a call late in the evening August 24th about an bald eagle that had gone to the ground near the airport and could not fly. Upon getting to the residence of the guy (Dave) who found it, the story was the eagle had evidently been involved in some sort of aerial battle with another eagle and both birds had crashed into the ground after becoming tangled or locked by the talons. The other eagle flew away but this one could not so Dave caught it with a blanket and out it in his shop. When we got there, the eagle was hanging a wing and was covered with blood. Getting the bird contained wasn't too difficult but it was a biter. This is the reason why we wear welder's gloves and I wear a heave Carhartt jacket when handling eagles! I kept the eagle overnight and in the morning there was quite a bit of blood in the crate I used. No problems getting it into the clinic right away in the morning. A few days later I brought in a red tail hawk and asked Drew about the eagle. He said they could find nothing wrong with it other than it had an upset stomach! Weird. One of my rescue mentors, Susan, called a few days ago to let me know the eagle was going to be part of the release program so we made plans to make the Saturday morning trip to see it take to the skies again. The few seconds it takes to return a raptor to the skies makes the time and miles getting to these birds when they need help totally worth it!

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, American Kestrel

An American Kestrel on display. This is not a release bird but an education bird.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Samantha the Great Horned Owl

Samantha the Great Horned Owl. Another education bird.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Peregrine falcon release.

The peregrine falcon which was released. Figures just as soon as they did it, a cloud passed in in front of the sun and screwed up my exposure. Had to work just to get a usable photo.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Broadwing hawk release

Getting ready to release a broadwing hawk.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Broadwing hawk release

There it goes. The expression on the faces of the people who get to do a release is always cool as the excitement is very genuine.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Cooper's Hawk release

A Cooper's Hawk retaking the skies!

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Terry, one of my rescue mentors.  Susan couldn't make it this day.

This is Terry. She is one of my rescue / handling mentors. She is holding a LARGE female eagle who was rescued from near Zimmerman, MN after it fed on a calf which had been euthanized using a barbiturate. Another example of why it is SO important not to leave carcasses exposed (deer shot with lead based ammo too!).

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, This is the eagle Terry is holding in the other picture.  Dr Julie Ponder in the background.

There she goes! The gentleman releasing the eagle is from 3M. 3M is a HUGE contributor to The Raptor Center and the Carpenter Nature Center. Did you know it costs about $72,000 a year just to FEED the birds which come through the center? Only 5% of TRC's operating funding comes from the U of MN so private contributions are very important to keep it going!

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Large female bald eagle

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Large female bald eagle

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Large female bald eagle

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, This eagle was rehabed back to health after being poisoned from a calf carcass which had been euthanized using a barbiturate.

It's always a rush to have one of these huge birds pass overhead!

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, This is one of the eagles I rescued this past year.  August 24th to be exact near Winsted, MN.  This eagle was a biter when I captured it.  Still is.

Here is the Winsted eagle waiting it's turn. He went nuts as soon as they took his hood off and he could see.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, This is one of the eagles I rescued this past year.  August 24th to be exact near Winsted, MN.

Still trying to bite....big surprise.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, The Winsted eagle getting getting to be released.

Ready to go!

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, The Winsted eagle is again free.

Back to living life a wild eagle. The gal releasing her is from the U of MN. I didn't catch her name or title. The woman in the middle is Dr. Julie Ponder, executive director of The Raptor Center and on the right is Gail Buhl, the education manager at TRC. The photo inserted in the top right was taken the night we captured the eagle.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Winsted eagle climbing high over the St. Croiz River September 22 2012.

And he is off!


2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Winsted eagle climbing high over the St. Croiz River September 22 2012.

2012 The Raptor Center  Fall Release, Winsted eagle climbing high over the St. Croiz River September 22 2012.

He didn't waste any time climbing to a soaring height over the St. Croix River and Prescott, WI on the other bank. We took a moment to just look around at all the people (about 400) many of whom were still looking up and pointing at the eagle high in the sky. Melinda and I stood there, looked at the eagle one last time, rounded up Cailyn and her friend, Emily, and started walking out. We felt very thankful to have had the opportunity be part of the process (although very small) which returned this eagle to the sky and let the people around us enjoy the awesome site of a bald eagle returning to the sky.


1 comment:

Michael Thompson said...

Nice work Guys and Gals! i have been seeing so many Raptors this year, Thanks to programs like yours! Nice Shots Bill!

MT

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