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.
Sadness and Reflection
There is joy in nature. There is sadness in nature. There is joy in the world of raptors and raptor rehabilitation and there is sadness. The July 27 passing of our friend Bob Anderson of Raptor Resource Project is one of those sad times. But we must remember Bob's passion and his love for what he did. He truly tried to connect people with nature. Bob's Celebration of Life will be on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at the Trout Hatchery in Decorah at 1:00pm (link: http://goo.gl/sxdsBg). Bob's celebration is public and all are welcome to attend.
Osprey Reintroduction 2015
Aerial survey identifies nests for osprey adoption day
From Minnesota Power Employee Newsletter for July 10, 2015
Things appear to be looking up for osprey in Minnesota Power (MP) service territory.
An aerial survey conducted on Tuesday revealed an uptick in the number of nests with chicks compared to the past two “glacial springs” that took a serious toll on young birds, said Bill Fraundorf, senior environmental compliance specialist. While still not back to normal, the tally on Tuesday is definitely better than the last two years, he said.
Fraundorf and Ross Dudzik, land management and compliance specialist, boarded a Brainerd Helicopter Service chopper on Tuesday for the survey in preparation for collecting chicks next week for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. MP has collected osprey chicks in the service territory for many years for the Iowa program.
The annual collection is an important part of Iowa’s program to reintroduce the osprey in the state. Osprey populations in Iowa declined decades ago because of the use of chemical pesticides. Federal and state permits granting MP and Iowa permission to remove chicks from their nests require that at least one chick be left in each nest.
This is Dudzik’s first year as part of the osprey program and Tuesday was his first time in a helicopter.
“That was an absolute blast,” he said, noting that the helicopter survey is critical to the osprey project’s efficiency and safety. It’s how the osprey team determines the number of chicks in a nest and is a way to minimize the number of structures line workers must climb to collect birds.
The chicks tend to flatten their bodies when the chopper passes by and their coloration makes them difficult to see but with coaching from Fraundorf, Dudzik was able to spot them.
“I definitely learned a lot about osprey from Bill,” he said.
Collection day is Monday, weather permitting, and both Fraundorf and Dudzik will be there along with the line workers and a contingent from Iowa. The longstanding program speaks well of the company’s environmental ethic and its relationship with other agencies, Dudzik said.
Kay headed to northern Minnesota on July 12 to meet up with Pat Schlaurbam, Iowa DNR Wildlife Diversity Program, and Bill Fraundorf, who leads the osprey collection for Minnesota Power. Red on the radar kept Kay in St. Cloud for the evening. Indeed bad storms hit the area where many osprey nests can be found. Minnesota Power lineman and crews were busy Sunday evening repairing damage and getting power restored. Needless to say, osprey took a back seat as the usual collection crew from Minnesota Power were sent home to get some sleep.
Storm-delayed osprey collection yields 5 chicks for Iowa
From Minnesota Power Employee Newsletter for July 17, 2015
Plans to collect osprey chicks in Minnesota Power’s service territory near Brainerd changed quickly as Sunday’s storm ripped through the area.
The osprey collectors, led by Bill Fraundorf, senior environmental compliance specialist, and including representatives from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, fully expected this year’s collection would be scrapped. Straight-line winds in excess of 70 mph in some spots uprooted trees and damaged more than 250 power poles and more than 100 transformers. More than 8,000 customers in the Brainerd Lakes area were without power early Monday morning. They knew the two line workers they relied on for collecting the young birds would be needed elsewhere on Monday.
“They wouldn’t be here if you guys (Minnesota Power) weren’t helping,” Neumann said.
Here’s a few on-the-scene reports from Fraundorf:
It was Sunday afternoon and the sky turned dark as we approached Deerwood. An ominous beginning to what we now know followed.
TV screens were cluttered with red dot weather warnings as the sky turned from gray to black.
Damage reports came in through the night and by Monday morning we set our expectations for osprey collection aside in recognition of the severity of the situation.
We surveyed the storm damage to our target osprey nests and by late Monday afternoon we spoke again with Carl Thesing and were informed of a Tuesday window for chick collection. We had seen the storm damage, so we were both amazed and impressed by the effort and commitment we were graced with.
We took some bumps on Tuesday as four of the nine most accessible osprey chicks were found dead. The remaining five were perfect candidates for a trip south and were all provided with Iowa passports.
To learn more about SOAR's efforts to help with the Iowa osprey reintroduction, click to the Osprey page!
The collection crew found several osprey chicks that had died and were still in the nest and others dead on the ground. They also found several nests with only one chick. Those chicks are left to be rasied by their parents. Chicks are only collected from nests with two or more young.
Kay handed one of the lineman her cell phone for a picture from up at the nest, but little did he know he would have a great video of momma osprey defending her nest.
All told Kay brought five young osprey back to Iowa. Ear maggots were removed, all were given wormer for tape worms and any nasal leeches they might have, all were vaccinated against West Nile Virus, and Savanna put on their silver federal bands and purple Iowa project bands!
Four of the five osprey have already been put in the hack tower at Swan Lake State Park in Carroll County. The osprey in the tower have purple bands of: AE, AH, BX, and TY. One young osprey has needed continued care and remains at SOAR.
These osprey are ready to try their first flight and the gates on the tower are scheduled to be opened on July 29, if all continues well.
The gates on the Swan Lake State Park hack tower were opened at 9:00 a.m.
Fish needed! Feeding carp is a win-win as the carp can easily overwhelm a fishery; carp are an invasive species and the carp provide the food needed for our education osprey and the osprey for reintroduction at the Swan Lake State Park hack tower! (The eagles will eat carp, too!)
Only fish caught with non-toxic tackle or by bowfishing are acceptable -- carp are good, other fish acceptable as well. Please follow all fishing rules and regulations, and remove all hooks and tackle. Freeze the fish, then email us!
Thanks to Mitchell for the carp and to Cassie for picking them!
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!