Sunday, January 19, 2014

Raptor Release Spring '13 old photos

I'm a victim of the bird trend, I guess, only I've always been one as long as I can remember. I found all these photos from the spring on a compact flash card I'd forgotten!

The MN Raptor Center is an amazing organization - this is from their raptor release day.

These animals are not wildly endangered for the most part. The value of saving an individual hawk or vulture is debatable in a world full of bigger problems. But somehow the minuteness of the gesture - saving one Cooper's or Red Tail - makes it seem even more important. There is no compelling reason to do it except for the goodness of repairing one thing we caused. Whether with a car, a window,  or a horribly misguided pellet, because some people still resent their fellow hunters that much.

And when you think about it, it's an incredible thing - to repair hollow avian bones and terrified wild muscles and tissues, to maintain enough distance to maintain the desire to leave the rehab environment - to be able to put a hawk back into the sky.

These animals are not cute, they are not their own best press and advocates to people who love baby bunnies, but we do need them in the ecology of our immediate surroundings, and we do need to look up and see the Hunters and not just clouds of House Sparrows spun out of control.  Anyway, photos!

Educational Red Tailed Hawk - this bird is injured past the point of rehab, and is one of the educational Raptors for schools and events like this one. The Education birds have been conditioned for the demands of human contact and closeness.
Another Red Tailed hawk in the education department: the coloration of red tailed hawks varies a lot within the species.  It's often confusing to ID these birds from the underside!
Nobody's favorite? Turkey Vultures are SO underrated.  This bird is older than I am!  In the seventies it was a valuable part of a California Condor conservation project, and the University has maintained responsibility for this individual ever since. His/her gender is still uncertain. Because the bird has no idea how to be a Vulture in the wild, it's got to stay put.
Eagles are a common sight on my drives to Joanne or Michael's for those last minute craft runs! I feel so privileged to live in a city with these birds as neighbors. Eagles are so different from our projections onto them - timid with smaller threats, social with other Eagles (including lots of stealing and squabbles) - I think Eagles actually ARE good places to see ourselves reflected in nature, but not in the ways we usually do it!

Biggest threat lately? Lead poisoning - that's part of what happened to this individual, and she was lucky to recover, though not enough from her bone breaks to go back to the wild. I don't have a problem with hunters. The plastic fork I might use on a vegan falafel is a much worse thing. Just don't use lead shot and/or be sure to bury your offal, sportspeople, and you and I are copacetic.

A friend in need.  I'll shamelessly admit that the tiny Kestrel is my favorite raptor. This male kestrel has nothing physically wrong with him.  He was taken in as a chick by well-intentioned people, but this was done incorrectly, so he imprinted on human beings. A bird whose eyes are first focusing is in an imprint stage and will imprint on humans if exposed to them. Moral of story : ALWAYS call a pro from a Wildlife rehab facility.  He has no idea how to be a Kestrel, so he'll live out his life as an education bird, at least cared for and admired and hopefully teaching people not to do any wildlife rescues of baby birds themselves.

But most of the Raptor Center's patients, the VAST majority, do not wind up as education birds - most are released into the wild once again. Here's a red tailed hawk leaving the hospital after a car-related rehab:

1 comment:

  1. As they say... if you can't beat em... join em! Love the bird movement... hard not to right? Lovely photos... the Bald Eagle looks pristine and I adore the little American Kestrel raptors. Such colors! Cheers.