Saving Our Avian Resources (SOAR) is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1999 dedicated to saving our avian resources through raptor rehabilitation, education, and research. SOAR maintains all necessary US Fish & Wildlife Service and Iowa DNR permits to provide the rehabilitation and education.
- Establish a regional raptor rehabilitation facility to serve western Iowa.
- Use personal connections with individual, wild animals to bring attention to important natural resource conservation projects and issues.
- Conserve habitat, conduct needed research, and provide educational opportunities.
Ocean Mysteries: Plight of the condors
This clip first aired on 2/7/15 and is now Hulu... sorry there are ads... Steve Corwin and crew visit the Ventana Wildlife Society condor recovery area in Big Sur, California. Watch and learn about testing these big birds for lead exposure and chelation treatment.
Whiterock osprey sighted in Sioux City
A 2011 banded osprey relocated from northern Minnesota to the Whiterock Conservancy osprey hack tower was spotted and photographed in Sioux City, Iowa in April 2015. This female sports the Iowa osprey project purple band YU on her left leg and a silver USFWS band on her right.
Learn more about the osprey reintroduction program and SOAR's partnership with Whiterock Conservancy here!
In 2006, Saving Our Avian Resources - SOAR and Whiterock Conservancy partnered to move a hack tower from eastern Iowa to near Coon Rapids and establish nesting osprey along the Middle Raccoon River. Many, many folk sponsored the reintroduction project. In total, 27 young osprey were hacked in the Whiterock tower from 2006 to 2011. Additionally, six other osprey were hacked from that tower that were received from other rehabilitators for release. Two young were also hacked at this tower in 2013. Below: Four of the five young osprey from 2011 sit on the edge of the open hack tower.
The “big deal” in sighting an osprey that fledged from the Whiterock tower, is this is the FIRST documented sighted of any of the osprey from that tower. YU was spotted with a male and the hope is that they are nest building in the Woodbury County area, possibly even where they were photographed! It took a couple days of photographing for SOAR volunteer Tyler Flammang to get enough evidence that this was indeed YU. The first days’ photos showed us the letter Y and the letter U but could not tell the order. The next time Tyler photographed this osprey, one photo showed the crimp where the band is riveted together. The alpha identification is on both sides of the band and that crimp tells us what order.
Osprey are neotropical migrants, spending our winter in South America. They are also slow to mature and will not start nesting until they are three or four years old. Nesting structures have been installed at Whiterock Conservancy, ready for any of our returning released birds or perhaps a migrating osprey will see the structures and choose to stay and nest. This should be the third migration for YU as a now-four-year-old bird and this could well be her first or second nesting attempt. While she may not have returned to the Middle Raccoon River as hoped, SOAR is very excited to see her return.
From 1997 through 2014, 291 ospreys have been released at twelve sites in Iowa. Between 2003 through 2014, 164 wild ospreys were produced at 95 successful nests (duplicated locations). Wild hatched osprey may be banded as part of the reintroduction effort and receive a green project band on their left leg and a USFWS silver band on the right leg. In 2014, 21 osprey pair nested with 15 successful nests producing 30 young.
Baby bird season
Many patients received in the spring are still considered nestlings and they should still been in their nest but for unknown reason(s) were not. Below are terms that SOAR uses to describe raptor development:
- Nestling - rely 100% on parents to feed them, will still be covered in down, some feather growth. A raptor this age cannot tear their food. If a nestling is no longer in the nest... it will not get fed.
- Brancher - a young raptor that has lost their down, is mostly feathered, has left the nest but has not gone far and still relies on adults to bring food.
- Fledgling - fully feathered, starting to fly and still relies on adults to bring food. Eventually will start making attempts to hunt on own and will do so with increasing success.
- Juvenile - an independent bird that does not yet have adult feathers / plumage.
...and it's not just baby bird season...
"Stuff" happens and sometimes the wildlife parents and young become separated -- sometimes this is normal -- but how do you know. Check out these links to learn more!
- National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association - Help I've Found a Baby Bird
- National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association - Help I've Found a Baby Mammal
- Sometimes we find birds that are not babies - What should I do if I find an injured raptor in Iowa?
- Learn more about Raptor Rehabilitation
- Contact your local county conservation board or Iowa DNR Conservation Officer to locate the nearest wildlife rehabilitator.
If you still need help, call SOAR at (712) 830-6116 and we'll help you find the nearest rehabilitator.
Human-made hazards abound
It's difficult being a wild creature in the human landscape. Dangers lurk around every corner and navigating them is a challenge. Look out your window and you're likely to see at least a couple hazards for our furred and feathered friends, in fact your window could be a hazard. SOAR admits most patients because of human-bird interaction that has gone wrong -- shotgun pellets in the bird, bird being hit by a vehicle, bird's nest tree cut down, birds colliding with large windows, birds swallowing lead tackle or fishing hooks, and birds eating spent lead hunting ammunition just to name a few.
Many human-wildlife interactions can have a better outcome with a bit of intervention.
- Learn about the effective of nonlead ammunition (particularly copper) and share your knowledge with hunters. Here's a short video from our friends at Hunting With Nonlead talking about making the switch! Visit this page for more info, too!
- Find out whether your utility has an avian protection plan. If they don't, they should consider adopting one. An APP helps keep animals, equipment, and people safe. Learn more about the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee and avian protection plans here.
- Bird safe power poles - Raptor Resource Project blog 11/26/12, scroll down just a bit to get to the entry on the 26th.
- Perch plans for bird safe power poles on Flickr
- FLAP - Fatal Light Awareness Program has info on how to reduce bird window collisions and yes, the group is from Canada, but collisions are collisions!
- Make your own Acopian Bird Savers to prevent bird collisions with windows.
Raptor viewing etiquette
We should all observe good raptor viewing etiquette, not only during the nesting season, but also during migration and the winter months when many raptors will gather together in good hunting areas.
Remember that raptors are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald and golden eagles have additional protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
- Respect landowners and do not trespass.
- If you see raptors on the ground, do not approach or feed.
- USFWS mandates safe viewing of bald eagle nests of at least 330 ft away.
Looking for a non-toxic ammo gift for your favorite hunter?
Not sure what to get? First, find out what the caliber or gauge of their favorite firearm and then check that against what is available! Does your hunter reload their own cartridges? Not to worry, non-lead bullets are available, too.
Download this list of non-lead hunting bullets and ammunition that not only lists what is available by manufacturer but also lists great websites to purchase on-line.
Here's a short video from our friends at Hunting With Nonlead talking about making the switch!