Raptor Center Birds

Since the weather has been below zero degrees Fahrenheit, many of the education birds at The Raptor Center need to sleep indoors at night. For the most part, the birds can sleep outside when it's cold--bald eagles and red-tailed hawks live in Minnesota in the wild, so they can usually take it. However, some species like female kestrels migrate--it's the weirdest thing, most kestrels leave Minnesota for the winter, but a few stay--and they're all males. I met a researcher from Ohio who studied this and his theory was that the female kestrel is larger, needs more food in a day than a male. The females go further south where there's more variety of prey and a little longer daylight (more time to hunt). With the temps getting to -15, all the birds are coming in at night and sleeping in their travel crates. Even if some could survive it, why risk it any chance for frost bite? Because there are so many birds and crates, some of the crates are stacked.

All the owls are getting very hooty right now, mating season is upon us. Yesterday, I was hooting to one of the great horned owls who was in a crate stacked on top of the turkey vulture crate. I had just come in and still had my coat and scarf on as I hooted a response. Someone on our crew pointed to the vulture crate beneath the owl crate:

Nero, the education vulture was trying to sneak through a gap in his door to get to my scarf! Or maybe just me in general. I don't work with him and on the few occasions I've gone in to retrieve old food in his mew, he's displayed some aggressive behavior towards me (he once tried to rip off the tassels on a pair of my capris.