It’s baby season for The Raptor Center
This is a busy time for The Raptor Center (TRC) at the University of Minnesota. Each spring and summer, they welcome an influx of babies.
“At this point in the summer, we’re currently admitting baby owls, and baby hawks and baby osprey are just starting to hatch,” said Dr. Dana Franzen-Klein.
She explained baby season is typically from March until August. They’ve treated about 75 baby raptors at the clinic so far this season, which is halfway to the typical 150 babies they treat each year.
“When a baby raptor come into us, they are still learning who they are in life, so if we get babies that are extremely young, there is the risk that they can imprint on people or habituate to people,” said Dr. Franzen-Klein. “If that happens, they don’t know if they’re a wild raptor and we can’t release them back into the wild.”
To prevent that, they don’t talk to the babies and they do a lot of procedures in the dark. Staff may wear a full body disguise, a ghillie suit, while they do feedings.
“The purpose of it is to hide the human shape and hide your skin, hide your face so that you just blend in with the environment and you don’t look like a human,” said Dr. Franzen-Klein.
She explained a baby raptor may spend just a day or two at TRC, for example, in cases where the baby fell out of a nest but isn’t injured. Those with broken bones or more serious injuries could be at TRC for a couple of weeks or a month.
“We have six baby bald eagles that are in various stages of their rehabilitation; we have two baby American kestrels, two baby barred owls, two baby eastern screech owls,” said Dr. Franzen-Klein.
One baby-barred owl is ready to head back into the wild after about three weeks at TRC. It came in with a beak fracture, which is now healed. A unique identification band was attached on Wednesday before it was released to a foster owl family in Bloomington.
“It keeps us very busy, but we enjoy it,” she said.
TRC asks that you call 612-624-4745 if you find a raptor in distress. Their team will provide professional advice on the steps to follow.
There is an ongoing baby shower to support TRC that can be accessed here.