Happy Thanksgiving! As we approach the end of 2021, all of us at the Raptor Resource Project want to thank you, our supporters. Today we are taking stock and remembering our founder Bob Anderson, who would have celebrated his 71st birthday on November 23: a good time to remember where we started and what we have to be grateful for. The Raptor Resource Project is sustained by its mission: to preserve and strengthen raptor populations, expand participation in raptor conservation, and educate people around the world about raptors and their habitats. And we follow our vision: to deepen the connection between people and the natural world, bringing benefits to both.
Bob and Brett with D1
Bob Anderson founded the Raptor Resource Project to propagate and release peregrine falcons. He was the first person to successfully breed peregrine falcons in Minnesota. MF-1, one of the first falcons he produced and released, became the first returned falcon to breed in the mid-continent following the species’ extirpation in the mid-1960’s. It took an incredible amount of work to keep the peregrine falcon from joining the long list of species that are mourned on Remembrance Day. I am thankful that the peregrine falcon is still with us. Where we have a will, we have a way!
I am grateful to have met Bob. He responded to an ad that my little writing business was running back in 1994. I began by writing grants, but quickly moved into field work. Did I want to attend a banding and take pictures? Yes! Did I want to hold falcons? Yes! Did I want to rappel? Yes yes yes! The writer William Least Heat Moon said in the Wonsevu chapter of the book PrairyErth that “I’m not sure what to make of it, but I think a dream can set you on another path.” Bob’s dream of restoring the peregrine falcon set many people’s lives on another path. My 1994 self had no way of knowing what saying ‘Yes’ to Bob’s first request would lead to. Bob, we will remember and celebrate you until we join you.
Bob Anderson in 2014. Photo credit David Lynch
I am grateful for our community of volunteers and watchers. We’ve been there for each other in some awfully tough times. Environmental problems can be discouraging since they feel so remote and so hard to deal with. But once you connect with eagle families and other people who love them, you feel empowered to act. Maybe you put out bird feeders. Maybe you make different choices about your yard. Maybe you get involved with local groups that protect habitat. Maybe you decide to hunt and fish with lead-free ammo and tackle. Thank you so, so much for watching, sharing, learning, and especially for caring. You gave us the joy of community in another year of loss, and my life is better for having known you.
I am grateful for our partners: landowners, power companies, grain companies, and others who welcomed peregrine falcons onto their property and into their lives. Their support gave the returning peregrine population a place to thrive and grow. In 1987, banding season took three hours at one site. In 2021, we banded 80 falcons at 29 sites over about 30 days, and I know that we weren’t the only Midwest banders who had a banner year! You are all awesome…and great fun, too!
Amy, John, and Brenda Geisler at Great River Energy in Elk River, MN. Photo credit Stan Tekiela
And finally, I am grateful for John Howe’s leadership. In the years since Bob’s death, John has worked diligently to keep up with camera and streaming technology, deploy cameras, expand our online educational offerings, honor Bob’s legacy, and secure funding (an organization doesn’t run very long without money). He has more than proven himself as a director and a leader. I am thankful for John Howe and wish that Bob was here to see the positive change he brought to the Raptor Resource Project.
John Howe and friend on Xcel Energy’s Monticello stack in Monticello, MN
Thank you, everyone. I’m going to close with a link to a favorite blog I did on Bob back in 2012: Watching Bald Eagles. The Raptor Resource Project wishes you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!