To help kick-off Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, December 1, we wanted to talk about what we did this year. Here are the things that your donations got done. Please donate to the Raptor Resource Project to help us continue our work in 2021 and beyond!
Despite the disruption of Covid-19, we expanded our online educational offerings, partnered with Eagle Valley, the Kohler Foundation, the Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service on a new Mississippi River Flyway Cam, improved our streaming capabilities, and built a new nest for the Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrain Eagles (while wearing masks, social distancing, and following state regulations and mandates). We:
- Added a sister website to support online learning with our eagles, falcons, and the birds of the Mississippi River Flyway.
- Worked with Eagle Valley, the Kohler Foundation, the Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to replace the camera at Eagle Valley. The new camera is located on a backwater pond and will give us another window into the lives of resident and migratory birds on the Mississippi River. Look for Eagle Valley to come back online in mid-December here: https://www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/eagle-valley/.
- Began moving towards 4K streaming, which requires a lot of upload and two very powerful computers. This will roughly quadruple our current resolution.
- Built a new nest for the Fort St. Vrain Eagles after part of the tree collapsed during a storm! RRP Director John Howe designed a bionic tree limb, and he and Bill Heston installed it and rebuilt the nest with the help of Tina Lopez, and her husband. The eagles appear to have approved their new nest since they were seen sitting in it a day later!
Online Interaction and Education
The move to online schooling made our website very busy! Since January 1, 2020, we have:
- Provided over 1,785 hours of chat on the Decorah eagles channel, including 449 hours of dedicated educational chat. Our Decorah North group provided 576 hours of moderated chat and our Flyway Group provided 500 hours of moderated chat.
- Posted 406 times on Facebook. Topics and photos included the Decorah Eagles, the Decorah North Eagles, the GSB Peregrine Falcons, tracking D27, D35, and D36, Robin Brumm’s trips to Decorah, Peregrine Falcon banding, nest box work, and many other topics related to our nests and birds. Posts were shared from Neil Rettig Productions, SOAR, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Explore.org, and several fan pages.
- Wrote 200 blogs on our web site. We reported on and addressed questions about the eagles, the nests, nest intruders, eaglet growth and development, eagle ID, DM2’s second year as a father, DNF’s second year as a mother, prey remains in the nest, the events at Great Spirit Bluff, and the birds of the Mississippi River Flyway.
I need to give a shout out to our amazing volunteer moderators. Let me be very clear – our volunteers make our pages the best on the web and we could not provide our chat or online educational program without their help! They have educated people, comforted people, and welcomed them into a wider circle of eagle friends. We thank them for everything they do!
Monitoring, Banding, and Recovery
Our peregrine falcon program is key part of who we are and what we do! In 2020, we:
- Monitored over 50 peregrine falcon and bald eagle nest sites and potential territories in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Colorado.
- Banded 50 falcons at 25 sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois between May 30 and June 15! Covid-19 locked us out of a lot of sites this year, or we would have banded a record 88 falcons. At least two new cliff sites came online this year and we’re hopeful about a new peregrine falcon nest box in Cedar Rapids next year!
- Put transmitters on D35 and D36! We learned a lot more about sibling behavior and dispersal this year thanks to our transmitter project.
- Added Sophia Landis and Mark Webber to our climb team.
Thanks to our utility, industrial, and landowner partners for all of their help and support! A huge thanks to Brett Mandernack for including ‘our’ eagles in his studies and for sharing all of the data about their whereabouts and fates. Thanks also to David and Ann Lynch and Brian Malaise for their help with the transmitter project and to Bill Smith for his help monitoring eyries on the Mississippi River. We couldn’t do it without all of you!
Camera Research and Installation
John Howe, Kike (Enrique or Kee-Kay) Arnal, Amy Ries, and Brett Mandernack installed a total of eight cameras and five microphones at N1, N2B, Decorah North, and Eagle Valley. We have two more camera replacements and a nestbox replacement scheduled for Red Wing Grain and US Bank with the help of new volunteer Ken Ries. We did our three eagle cam sites between August 27 and October 2nd, when the eagles are at their loosest point of attachment to their nests. It was a busy season but the upgrades in video and sound were well worth it! The installations took roughly 1050 hours total. John Howe put in hundreds of hours researching, ordering, and testing cameras this year. While the majority of our installs are done in September and October, camera and streaming research take place year-round.
- We moved our annual After The Fledge party online this year. Well over 100 eagle fans and volunteers had a blast celebrating the Decorah eagles! We hope we get to see all of you in person next year, but we’ll keep an online component for everyone who can’t be there in person!
- We upgraded our website and our live streams to give users a safer, easier, and faster way to watch our eagles and falcons on a variety of platforms, including mobile devices and tablets!
- We added new remote volunteer camera operators to increase our coverage. This has given us new insights into the lives and habitat of the birds we watch!
As of the third quarter of 2020, our expenses looked liked this:
- Staff and contractor compensation cost $127,462. We pay for a director, three contractors, two master banders, a banding station attendant, banding interns, and additional people as needed. We are committed to paying a fair wage for work, which means that we compensate our people at a living wage or better.
- Camera equipment and IT expenses – cameras, microphones, cables, encoders, software, licensing fees, website costs, and so on – cost $48,584. HD and 4K cameras are amazing, brilliant, and breathtaking…but they don’t come cheap. Software licensing and IT expenses continue to rise as we bring more camera operators on and do everything we can to make sure our website and streams are watchable on a variety of devices, secure, encrypted, and always up.
- Supplies – paper, printer expenses, new ropes, slings, rappelling tools, hardware, zip ties, screws, silicon gel, ropes, rope bags, rescue equipment, harnesses, lumber, paint, tape, bands, banding equipment, and trapping equipment – cost $13,405. Several of us pay for our own climbing equipment instead of having RRP do it, which helps keep expenses lower and gives Amy a great excuse to go shopping.
- Office and land rental fees cost $6,000.
- Administrative costs like printing and postage cost $7,278. This includes a large newsletter printings, all of our thank you letters and envelopes, and any printing related to talks, events, and presentations.
- Travel and vehicle expenses cost us $20,976. The RaptorMobile has around 300,000 miles on it and will need to be replaced next year.
- Grants to partner organizations will total around $8,000.
- Our online ATF cost $1,500.
Although we receive grants from two corporate partners, donations from viewers like you remain our biggest single source of income. We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support of the Raptor Resource Project mission. Would you please help us make a difference with your donation? Thank you so much for your support and we hope you enjoy watching in 2021!