Each spring at The Raptor Center, we receive hundreds of calls about young raptors that members of the public find in their communities. As just small balls of fluff, nestling raptors invoke everything we love to see in the public: empathy, compassion, and an urge to help protect and care for the wild animals around us. What becomes of critical importance, however, is educating the public on how best to respond if they find a young raptor needing assistance. It is critical to their survival that these youngsters stay with their parents in the wild where they belong.
Baby season takes a heroic amount of effort to make sure that we are rapidly assessing babies that are found, treating them when needed, and getting them back to their families or to new foster families. Often, hours matter when someone finds a baby, and prompt responses are essential to the future of these young birds. We rely heavily on our crew of raptor baby volunteers who deploy quickly to assess situations and find hidden nests in trees, on volunteer tree climbers who help get babies back up into nests or new artificial nests, and on our front desk, education, and clinic staff who interface with the public and care for these babies as they arrive.
In this issue of Raptor Release, join us as we talk more about baby season at The Raptor Center. The challenges that we face managing young raptors as highly pathogenic avian influenza virus continues to circulate in wild birds. The techniques we use to keep babies wild when they need to spend time in our hospital. The unique strategies we use to respond to baby calls. And meet our new education ambassador, Aura, a turkey vulture who was found as a baby in 2022. Though unfortunately not cared for appropriately by a well-intentioned citizen, Aura has now found a new role in helping educate and inspire the public on how to properly help wild babies in need.
Baby season is truly a team effort, and if you would like to join the team in providing critical resources so we can help the over 150 babies that we will receive this spring, please consider giving to our Baby Shower celebration, at z.umn.edu/BabyRaptors23. Special thanks to Tom and Ann Schwalen for providing a $35,000 match to ensure gifts have an even greater impact.
Please enjoy this issue of Raptor Release and thank you for your support of The Raptor Center.
Victoria Hall, DVM, MS, DACVPM
Executive Director and Redig Endowed Chair
in Raptor and Ecosystem Health