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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.

We are...

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.

Our Goals

SOAR celebrates 15th Anniversary

...and you're invited to the party. Please join us if you can! Light snacks, party cake, make and take activities, live music from Charlie Nixon, learn about our education program, and put your name in for a chance to release a rehabilitated raptor!

Download a PDF of of the flyer to share and post.

It's a party!


USFWS Region 3 shared research

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge hosted four informational sessions to share the results of research demonstrating the relationship between lead ammunition and lead exposure in bald eagles in early June. The presentation highlighted results from the two-year study which collected 168 deceased eagles from the Upper Midwest and examined them for lead exposure.

The informational sessions are past, but you can still chime in!

Written suggestions and recommendations on ways to reduce lead on the Refuge can be mailed to:

Wildlife Refuge Manager
51 East 4th St, Room 101
Winona, MN 55987

OR emailed to:


USFWS Region 3 bald eagle lead exposure research

The March 2014 issue of "Inside Region 3" is the first of three articles on the bald eagle lead exposure study conducted in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The second and third articles will be printed in April (focuses on public outreach effort) and May (focuses on quantity of lead shot during our managed hunts). (280 KB PDF)

The research done by Ed Britton and staff at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge will soon be published in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management. Here is the link to the abstract. SOAR helped with this research.

SOAR and osprey reintroduction in 2014

osprey nestSOAR volunteers went to northern Minnesota on 14-15 July to bring back young osprey for release in Iowa. No more than seven birds will be collected under a US Fish & Wildlife Service permit. Birds will be placed at hack towers at Swan Lake State Park in Carroll County and in Clear Lake. As always, special thanks to Allete / Minnesota Power lineman and their supervisors and Pat Schlarbaum with Iowa DNR for his assistance! Learn more about SOAR's involvement with the osprey reintroduction project here. Photos below from the 2014 collection event.


Nesting success?

Since 1997, 291 ospreys have been released at twelve sites in Iowa. Since 2003, 134 wild ospreys have been produced at 80 successful nests. 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 2013, 18 nesting pairs had 14 successful nest attempts with 29 young produced. 

Female Y8 (she was hacked at the Lake Red Rock tower in 2006) along with a mate that fledged three young on a cell tower nest near Des Moines in 2014 will be included in this year's statistics. Last year folks told us they saw Y8 with an Iowa-hatched male (green band). This year, we have pictures of her with another bird that could also have been hacked from the Lake Red Rock Tower, we just can't confirm his Iowa band letters (purple band). Thanks to B Manning for sharing her photos!


**7/15 Update - three younger and three older osprey arrive with Terrie late last night! Thanks to Terrie and Tyler for helping out! Three of the osprey will go to the Clear Lake tower after wormed, received a West Nile vaccination, and make sure they are eating good.

**7/18 Update - All osprey ears have been checked and no maggots! They have a few feather lice, but not bad... all have been treated with ivomectin. The three older / bigger osprey are contained in one area and the three younger have been moved today to their own small space.

**7/26 Update - With Terrie's help, the older three osprey chicks were delivered to the hack tower in Clear Lake!

**8/2 Update - Ron Andrews reports that all is well with the Clear Lake osprey. Ron is a retired Iowa DNR biologist and is the project coordinator in charge of that hack tower.

**Mason City Globe Gazette coverage from 8/2/14 - Operation Osprey

** Iowa DNR press release Osprey Nesting in Iowa

**8/2 Update - The three younger osprey are ready to be moved to the hack tower at Swan Lake State park.

Day 1 in tower**8/4 Update - Moving day for the younger osprey to Swan Lake State Park. They are all settled in! The tower has nice shade and a good breeze today. These young osprey will be fed here and here is where they will test their wings and make first flights. Where a young bird learns to fly tends to be where they nest. The osprey will be fed and watered daily. The doors on the hack tower will remain closed until they are ready for that first flight attempt. They will continue to be provided with food and water as they learn how to fly and become proficient hunters. This supplemental feeding will continue until the osprey have left the area on their first migration to Central or South America.

**8/14 Update - Vic reports that all three at Swan Lake State Park are doing great! The "runt" still needs banded as he was too small to band during collection and will be banded before the gates are opened on the tower.

10 days in the hack tower

**8/20 Update - Project band identification letters for this year are: BV, TP, and BS. Social commentary aside... these three will soon all be ready to have the hack tower gates open! We want a nest structure to be in place (as a target landing for their maiden flights) before we open the gates.

**8/29 Update - The gates at the Swan Lake State Park hack tower are open and maiden flights have begun! Pictures below from the day!

Alex bowfishingFish needed! Photo at right is SOAR friend Alex who volunteered to bowfish for carp. This 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 contact us!





Sculpture wins big for artist!

sculptureJennifer Felton used SOAR's education short-eared owl as a study model for her wood carving. Here's what she had to say after a recent competition she entered, "I ribboned which is an accomplishment at the world level for sure! I moved up to the professional level for the first time. Most of the carvers at that level have been carving for 20-30 years. It was stiff competition. I was pleased to have received an honorable mention (so I took 4th out of 12)."







Looking for a non-toxic ammo gift for your favorite hunter?

non-lead ammo

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!




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, and birds eating spent lead hunting ammunition just to name a few.

Many of these 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!
  • 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.

How about planting a seed with your local power company and giving them the "Raptors at Risk" video... order here!