Raptor Rehab


[light music] I think the public probably knows some
about what The Raptor Center does. I think a lot of them, They have kids that come to
The Raptor Center for school trips and things. So they learn at least about
our education birds. We have about 1,000 raptors come in to The Raptor Center every single year. Most of them are bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, great horned
owls. And then we have some less
frequent species as well. There are a lot of different
reasons that birds come into The Raptor Center, but I would say about
90 percent of them have had some type
of interaction with humans. And a lot of those reasons
include they were either hit by
a car, they flew into a window as they were migrating. A lot of the great horned owls will get caught in soccer nets while they’re hunting. There’s a lot of human-wildlife
interaction going on there. The Raptor Center has an
incredible network of volunteers. We have over 300 volunteers that work in the clinic, with
the flight crew, with education. And we really wouldn’t be
able to do what we do without them. The Raptor Center is associated
with the university and we’re incredibly
grateful for the opportunities that
that allows us for research. But the university and the state they don’t fund us financially. We’re based on philanthropy. So we really are reliant on our amazing volunteers and
donors to let us do what we
do here. I think people would be
surprised about just how much work it takes to take care
of these birds. Just the sheer amount of work
that it takes to get one bird from the door and back out again
is incredible. It’s not just quick
in and out. My name is Annette Ahlmann. I’m 29 years old. And I’m a wildlife
veterinarian and research assistant at
The Raptor Center for Partners for Wildlife. One of my favorite parts
about treating birds in the clinic is just
getting to see these animals up close. They have some incredible
adaptations— their feather patterns and
everything—that you just don’t get to appreciate when they’re out in the wild. And I’m really grateful that I get to see
those things. We are currently working
with Medtronic. They’ve lent us a few
devices. It’s called the reveal LINQ
implantable cardiac monitor. And it’s a monitor that
in humans they place permanently
under the skin. With raptors, we’re able to
just place it on the skin, since we are doing it
temporarily. So right now, we’ve been
working with bald eagles, testing if we can find a way to monitor their heart rates. And currently, we don’t have a good non-invasive way of measuring heart rates in
raptors. We know by experience
that if you handle a raptor, you
restrain them, automatically that is
a stressful event. So their heart rate increases. So we don’t have a way of knowing what does their
heart rate do when we’re not handling them. So by having this device that Medtronic is working with
us on, we’re able to see—what does
their heart rate do when they’re in a flight room, when they’re sitting in a cage? But our goal is to link physiologic stress with
behavioral stress, and find a way that we can
minimize stress for these patients while they’re under our care. Raptors are incredibly important in the environment. They do a lot of rodent control,
with eating rodents that are affecting agricultural fields. Eagles and vultures do a lot of scavenging of carcasses that
have died naturally. So it’s really important
to get them back out there so that they can play
that role in the ecosystem. When handling and treating
the raptors you have to be incredibly
careful, both for your sake and for
theirs. So they have very strong
beaks and very strong talons that
can injure you. But you can also injure
them. If you grab their legs
too roughly or if they flap their wings while you’re holding on to
them and they hit their
wing against something, they can either break their
wing or they can break their feathers. So you have to be
incredibly careful. We take blood samples from every bird that
comes in as long as they are
stable enough for us to take a blood
sample when they show up. And we do that for
a lot of reasons. It gives us a good overall systemic signs of health. So do they have a high
white blood cell count with signs of infection or inflammation that we may need
to treat? Do they have a low red
blood cell count? Are they anemic? Do they need a blood
transfusion or iron? It gives us a lot of ideas about what may be going on
with them and what types of things that we need to be
treating. So any time we have a bird that comes into care we place what we call
a tail protector, that’s a little plastic sheath, that we tape to the feathers. It helps to keep their tail protected and keep their tail
feathers safe, because when they’re in a cage sometimes they can bend or
break them. And we want to make sure
that they have a pristine set of flight
feathers before we release them. The owl that had leg
injuries the reason that bird came
to us is because it had actually been
trapped in a leg hold trap, put out by someone hoping
to trap something else. Unfortunately these traps aren’t
specific. So sometimes you catch a
great horned owl and it gets injured. It had some pretty nasty wounds on its feet and
its ankles. We were able to treat those and get away any of the
infected material, and get the bird on some good antibiotics and pain meds. And then we’ve been doing
wound care and bandage changes, but so far its doing pretty well. And we’re hoping that it will
make it to release
pretty soon. When the raptors have been
in a cage for several weeks, sometimes
months, depending on their injury, a lot of the time
their flight muscles have kind of
deterioted since they haven’t been using
them. So in order to get them fit to get back into the wild, we do some flight
reconditioning. We call it creancing. So we attach leather anklets to their legs and then
we’ll take them out on a line and we’ll actually toss them. Our flight crew is very well
trained and they’ll do several passes back and forth in order
to get them fit. Sometimes they have to go out
once a week, sometimes two or three times
a week. And they’ll continue that
process until they’re strong enough
to be able to fly and be released again. I think the toughest part about working at
The Raptor Center is that we can’t
save everyone. Even if we had all
of the money in the world some animals are just too
far gone. And I think teaching people about these animals so that we can get them into
the clinic sooner or we can prevent them from
getting injured in the first place. Educating them about things
like, for example, if you see roadkill
on the side of the road, slow down. There might be
a raptor that’s about to try and eat from
it and scavenge. Or, if you’re hunting, don’t use lead bullets, because an eagle could eat from
that gut pile and get lead poisoning
as a result. I think the most rewarding
part about my job is when I get to do a release for a patient that I’ve been
treating for months. When a bird is released I just feel a really strong sense
of accomplishment that we were able to get them
back out there. They’re just incredible
predators and seeing that is just
an amazing experience. Alright everybody, let’s
start at three. Three. Two. One. [Applause] And look at that.

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