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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 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 Walnut Woods State Park in Des Moines in 2014 will be included in this year's statistics. Last year folks ave 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!


Alex bowfishing**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.

Fish 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. Freeze the fish, then contact us!


Below is shared from the Minnesota Power / Allete company newsletter:

Osprey collection yields nestling rescue, mystery (21 July 2014)

The osprey collectors knew this year would be more challenging than usual, but they were stunned by what they found last week.

Four of the seven nests that had been identified by helicopter survey as two-chick nests and eligible for collection had at least one dead youngster in them.

“Everybody was just shaking their heads,” said Bill Fraundorf, who leads the osprey collection for Minnesota Power.

Unable to collect from those four nests—federal and state permits require at least one chick be left in a nest—the team turned to two nests in the area recommended by MP lineworkers. They took two chicks from a three-chick nest and, after receiving permission from the Minnesota DNR, rescued one very weak chick from an abandoned nest. That brought the total collected to six chicks, one less than they had hoped for.

Fraundorf and Pat Schlarbaum, Iowa DNR wildlife technician, said the cause of the birds’ deaths is a mystery. Disease, pesticides and exposure in a cold, wet spring all could play a role. Necropsies will be performed on two of the birds in an effort to learn more.

MP has collected osprey chicks in its service territory for many years for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources osprey program. This year, in addition to MP and Iowa DNR personnel, the team included representatives from SOAR rehabilitation center in Dedham, Iowa, and Minnesota Audubon.

Three of the chicks collected last week will be released at Clear Lake, Iowa, and three will be released in Carroll County in west-central Iowa. Schlarbaum said Friday afternoon that the rescued nestling was doing well.

“The year 2014 will go down as one of our most challenging efforts to provide ospreys to Iowa partners,” Schlarbaum said in an earlier email. “However, the tenacity and perseverance of Nick Zulawski, Joe Mowers and Bill Fraundorf is quite amazing. … A thousand thank-yous barely conveys all the gratitude we have for ALLETE’s contributions to establish ospreys in Iowa. Thank you for all you do for conservation.”

Osprey chick numbers take 'dramatic' turn (11 July 2014)

Evidence of a long winter and a cold spring is showing up in empty osprey nests across Minnesota Power service territory.

Bill Fraundorf, senior environmental compliance specialist, and Dean Erdman, line crew supervisor in Little Falls, were aboard a Brainerd Helicopter Service chopper Tuesday (July 8) morning to survey nests in preparation for collecting chicks next week. MP (Minnesota Power) has collected osprey chicks in its service territory for many years for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources osprey program.

The team surveyed 48 nests atop transmission structures covering about 600 square miles in the Riverton, Pine River and Breezy Point area. The results were sobering:  Seven nests had two chicks, 11 nests had one chick and 30 nests had no chicks.

“I have never seen anything even close to this before,” Fraundorf said. “It’s a dramatic change from normal.”

Fraundorf attributed the low productivity to the “arctic spring.” With ice remaining on many lakes into May, the fish-eating birds probably had trouble finding enough to eat and consequently didn’t produce any eggs, he said.

The Iowa DNR had requested 12 chicks for its program, but Fraundorf said seven is the most they’ll be able to collect. 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.

Collecting the seven chicks won’t harm overall nest productivity in the area and may in fact benefit the chicks, Fraundorf said. The chick remaining in the nest will have a better chance at getting enough food and the chick selected for relocation may spend time in an “osprey nursery.” Fraundorf said the Iowa DNR anticipated that the chicks will be less developed than normal and has arranged with a raptor rehabilitation center to care for any underdeveloped chicks until they’re strong enough to be released in north-central Iowa.

Collection day is scheduled for Monday, July 14, weather permitting. [Word from the SOAR volunteers is that rain limited their ability to get in the field and will attempt again on Tuesday, July 15.]

The helicopter survey is critical to the osprey project’s safety and efficiency. 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.

A cold spring also challenged osprey in 2013. MP and the osprey team collected nine chicks for relocation to Iowa last year. In addition to furnishing chicks to Iowa, the MP osprey team collects population data used by the Minnesota DNR and other researchers, such as the Minnesota Audubon Society, to help track osprey population trends. Osprey populations in Iowa declined decades ago because of the use of chemical pesticides.



SOAR Intern Receives National FFA Award

Reprinted with permission, Coon Rapids Enterprise

Ally's FFA AwardCRB senior Ally Schultes was bestowed several top honors at the 34th annual CRB FFA Parent/Member Banquet Saturday evening, May 3 in the Coon Rapids Bayard High School commons.

Schultes was recognized and presented a plaque for her service as Chapter President during the past year. She was also awarded the ‘Eagle Award’ — known as the high point senior award — for all her involvement in FFA over the past four years.

Ally also distinguished herself by earning a National FFA Proficiency Award in Wildlife Production and Management for her internship during her high school years with SOAR (Saving Our Avian Resources) located west of Dedham. She will attend an awards presentation at the National Leadership conference in Louisville, KY this fall where she will be honored. CRB FFA Chapter Advisor Jim Heithoff said Schultes will be the first CRB FFA student to be recognized at the FFA National Leadership Conference.

“Ally has been a model student of the CRB FFA program for the past four years,” said Heithoff. “She began her supervised agriculture experience during the summer of her freshman year when she was approached by Kay Neumann and asked to work for SOAR. She has now worked over 700 hours and learned numerous skills while earning money for college.

During her internship with SOAR, Schultes was given the opportunity to learn and take care of many different bird species — anything from a bald eagle to an American Kestrel. Schultes said working with SOAR has also allowed her the challenge of discussing the controversial issue of lead poisoning and how it affects many scavenger birds like bald eagles.

“I have been able to attend many local and statewide programs with Kay Neumann to help educate the public on lead poisoning,” Schultes added. “Having the opportunity to take care of and help with the process of rehabilitation has been a life changer.”

In addition to serving as Chapter President this past year, Heithoff said Schultes has also served as the Southwest District FFA secretary.

“She has prepared herself for college and will definitely find success in her chosen field of Animal Science and Ag Business,” said Heithoff, who added that he’s looking forward to the National FFA Leadership Conference in October. “It will be an exciting convention with six members also applying to receive their American FFA degrees as well.”

SOAR perspective: While SOAR has no paid staff, SOAR does think it crucial to invest in the future by working with high school and college interns and SOAR does provide a small stipend. Those interested in being a SOAR intern are upcoming new conservationists and most go on to college in animal science, wildlife biology, pre-vet, agricultural science or opportunities at larger organizations. SOAR interns are critical to maintaining a clean environment for patients and education birds as well as feeding and assisting in transport and the care of the birds at SOAR. Ally has been a pure joy to work with and has grown into a very dependable and capable young women! She will be missed this fall when she heads off to college! Best wishe to Ally!



Decorah juvenile eagle new admit on June 22.

Bob Anderson of Raptor Resource Project was at the Decorah Trout Hatchery on the 22nd and received word that an eaglet was downed in the trout stream nearby. Bob waded through the stream and was able to rescue the eaglet and determined it had a broken right wing. A SOAR volunteer transporter just happened to be in Decorah and brought the eaglet back to central Iowa to meet up with Kay. At the time of rescue, all were confident it was one of the eaglets from the Decorah cam nest, but unsure which one!

You've heard the saying, "It takes a village..." haven't you? There have been several volunteers involved in the rescue, transport, and care of this eagle. There is also a village of supporters, locally and in cyberspace (i.e. some we know by name and sight and others we do not yet know), that care deeply about this eaglet. We thank each and every one of you!

Please also check our Patient Page for updates on this juvenile and all our patients! This page is updated as time and the 'aligning of stars' allow! Thanks for understanding. Patient releases are in green. Recent udpates are in red.

We'll add to this photo album as the eaglet's rehab continues.



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)."







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 will be accepted until August 10, 2014. and can be mailed to:

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

OR email to:

Download the full press release here.


USFWS Region 3 bald eagle lead exposure research

The March 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.


Spring 2014 SOAR update

Click here to read our newsletter.


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.

If you do see a young bird on the ground, please go the National Wildlife Rehabilitators website and read this PDF first, when it says to call a wildlife rehabilitator, call SOAR at (712) 830-6116 and we'll help you find the nearest rehabilitator.


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!