2020 Newsletter: Message from the Director

RRP Director John Howe

Welcome! The Raptor Resource Project had an interesting and rewarding year despite the Covid-19 pandemic. While it turned our human families and routines upside down, things didn’t change much for the raptor families that we watch. On reflection, much of what affects us might not raise a feather in the natural world. But much of what we do has serious consequences for the wildlife around us. Our mission of education, stewardship, and connection has never been so important!

New education website

In early March, we opened a new web site with lesson plans and tools for educators. Little did we know that the pandemic would shut down school as we know it and open the door for virtual learning programs. Our teachers led the way with lessons, crafts, and activities that brought remote learning into classrooms and homes around the country. You can find those here: www.raptorresource.education.

How did our eagles and falcons do?

The rehabilitation experts at SOAR released D32, the last 2019 Decorah fledgling in their care, in early March! Our Decorah North Nest youngster DN12 fledged in early June, followed by the Decorah Fish Hatchery trio of D34, D35, and D36. The successful fledges helped soothe the sting of losing much-loved peregrine falcons Elise and Floyd at Great Spirit Bluff, eaglet DN11 at the North nest, and an early end to a promising year for the WI Kestrels. These sites taught us more about the circle of life in the wild and competition for food between raptor species.

We donned our gloves and masks to monitor and band 50 young peregrines in MN, IA, and WI. We would have banded more, but pandemic restrictions locked us out of many partner sites. One of our most exciting events was returning to Effigy Mounds National Monument to band nestlings 21 years after we completed a historic two-year release of cliff-hacked falcons. Our project successfully reintroduced the post-DDT population of peregrine falcons to their historic cliff eyries along the mighty Mississippi River. The banding was a joyous celebration for all of us at RRP.

Looking towards the future

Our future leaders in raptor conservation stand among us. Each student that we introduce to life in an eagle nest, or the beauty of a buteo, advances our work to engage and develop future conservationists. There is nothing more engaging or effective in developing a connection and love for nature. I’m proud of the success of our teachers, volunteers, and conservation partners. Thank you for supporting our programs, for your interest, and for your contribution to our future.

John Howe
Director, Raptor Resource Project