Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fall Raptor Release

As part of their mission to rescue and rehabilitate injured raptors The Raptor Center frequently has the opportunity to release birds back into the wild. Typically these are small events with the lucky person who gets to release the bird ans a TRC staff member or volunteer being the only people present. However twice a year TRC holds public raptor releases as a part of their service mission.
The fall release was held back in September, 9-27th, at the Carpenter Nature Center. I showed up at CNC the day before the event to help set up things like parking, tents, signs and the stage.
The purpose of these public releases is to help educate the public about raptors. To make people aware of the raptors that live around us and the challenges they face every day. Programs on the stage help demonstrate some of these challenges.
In this program Adam uses a young volunteer and his father to demonstrate how much weight it takes to break a normal chicken egg. You can tell by the look on dad's face that by adding many rocks on with the boy, around 85 to 90 lbs, the egg finally broke. This illustrates how devastating DDT was on many bird species since eggs that normally can hold over 80lbs where breaking under the weight of the birds, very large eagles only weigh around 14 pounds.
There were several other programs on the stage, I missed the Carpenter program on reptiles because I was busy answering questions about hawks and falcons, as well as music, booths, and the TRC education birds.
The highlight of the day is always the releases, after all that is the reason why most people come. The birds are kept in darkness away from the crowd until it is time to set them free.
The people who are lucky enough to get to release a bird are usually picked by TRC, the host site, in this case Carpenter Nature Center, or the sponsor. The sponsor for the fall event was 3M.
The number of birds that are released varies each year depending on how many birds are ready. This year there were quite of few red-tail hawks. This one decided to have a conversation with Gail, TRC education Program Manager.
Many of these people are long time supporters of TRC.
Others are long time supporters on the Carpenter Nature center.
This picture that I took was published in the local Hudson, WI newspaper. The paper, which covers an area close to CNC, sent a person to cover the event but they did not get a good shot of the release. Photographing releases is not easy and it helps if you have been to as many as I have. Jen, CNC Development Director, saw my pics and put me in touch with staff and the paper.
Unfortunately people under 18 are not allowed to release birds due to safety concerns. In cases where children are chosen to do a release an adult representative does the actual release. In this case the woman pictured represented three girls involved in a local organization.
Sometimes people get to release a raptor just by chance. In this case this woman's name was drawn from people who signed up for the Friends of The Raptor Center at the event.
The Friends of TRC is a new program for people who wish to contribute gifts to help benefit TRC.
There turned out to be one extra bird that was ready for release at the last minute. TRC chose to allow the instructor of a group that was filming a documentary about TRC for a class project to release the last bird.
The Raptor Release is a lot of fun. I really enjoy talking with people about raptors and so I spent all day at the hawk and falcon ring, when I was not taking pictures of the release. I was pleasantly surprised when Lynn, who blogs at Hasty Brook showed up and said hi.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Art and I had a good time that day and it was nice to see you too.

gina said...

this would be very exciting! and wonderful pix. congrats for getting some published in the paper...i would find that pretty exciting too. :)

Anonymous said...

The raptor release looks like a lot of fun. The expression on everyone's face is joyous. Great egg demonstration too, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I would love to be able to see that. Hopefully people will learn to appreciate raptors more with education and wonderful photos like these...

Leedra said...

Great series. Actually this is at the top of yours. The photos are beyond excellent, and the information is great. I would love to be at one of these releases. I remember Lynne commenting on going to this around the time of it.

DeniseinVA said...

Very cool moments, what a thrill that must have been. Great series of photographs.

A New England Life said...

I dream of being able to release a bird someday. Or help with the banding process. Beautiful pictures! Love your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine and leaving a comment : )