Raptor Resource Project: Our volunteers and landowners

We couldn’t do what we do without the help and support of our volunteers and landowners. RRP camera operators and moderators create community, document and share important moments, and introduce countless people to the magic of raptors and the places they live. Landowners share information and stories, care for the plants and animals on their properties, and let us band the falcons that live on their cliffs. We asked a few of them why they volunteered and what drove them to make a difference. These are their responses.

December 2, 2021: Mom Decorah on the Skywalk.

Tulsaducati Decorah: Lead Moderator, Decorah Eagles Chat

I started watching the Decorah eagles in 2013 and was hooked instantly! I was thrilled with the opportunity to be part of the community of naturalists and bird enthusiasts. I place tremendous value on the work of RRP and related organizations that I support, in a time when we so need a shared sense of purpose and community. In volunteering for RRP I have learned not only about birds and the natural world, but also about myself, and about the people I’ve been lucky enough to get to know. My favorite thing, other than of course Mom and DM2 Decorah, is the feeling of community and shared passion that we all have, working together to try to make the world a better place. I treasure the friendships that I’ve developed with RRP, mods, and our faithful chatters. It has been life-changing for me and for many others.

Glogdog: Lead Moderator, Decorah Eagles Chat

My first chat in the moderator role was on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014. I volunteer for RRP because I believe in their mission. They are “living” their words in the RRP mission statement, making a difference in the world for raptors, and teaching people about them. This is a group of people that love what they are doing because they have a passion for it. I want to be a part of that difference. My favorite thing is touching lives. Touching those that live alone, touching those that are in nursing homes, touching young minds in schools, touching hearts that need healing or a place to come to for learning and laughter, and touching those that simply love watching the beauty, strength, and courage of Bald Eagles. Volunteering takes a village. We learn, share, and care…together. That is what it’s all about.

July 30, 2020: Make Way For Ducklings! Mallard ducklings on the Flyway

Izzysamlikeseagles: Lead Moderator, Flyway Chat

Like so many of us, I fell in love with the Decorah eagles at first sight. I learned so much from the mods and chatters and was thrilled to be asked to join the squad in 2014. I thought it would be a fun thing to do for a season or two. But here I am, still modding at Decorah and the flyway, and loving every minute of it. I absolutely love how RRP has enabled us to continue to learn about nature and share our knowledge with anyone who loves to learn. We have the best chatters and volunteers in the business, and I am so grateful to be a part of what has become a second family to me.

Dave Reynolds: Raptor Resource Project Lead Camera Operator

I’ve been watching the Decorah Eagles since 2011 but decided to see what chat was all about during the 2013-2014 season. I was hooked! In 2017, I won a day at Central Command and became a camera operator. Chat moderator EagleFanDave taught me to trust the Eagles, which is not always an easy task, but I try! It is easy to do volunteer work when you believe in what and who you are volunteering for. I didn’t get to see an eagle growing up. Now they are a part of my life. I believe in the education and research that RRP stands for and the work that they are doing, and that is why I volunteer. I love to operate the cameras, but I think my favorite thing is working with John and the other cam operators. Whatever the future holds, we are learning. It is enjoyable working with people who make that happen and I am proud to say I volunteer for RRP!

June 17, 2021: DN13 at right, DN14 at left

Spish: Raptor Resource Project Camera Operator

I was a camera operator with explore.org when I got hooked watching fluffballs DN4, DN5, and DN6. I started learning more about the magnificent bald eagle and Bob Anderson’s work. Love, heartbreak, hope, triumph, awe, sheer persistence: so many emotions we go through while watching these amazing raptors! I feel proud to help showcase raptors in the best way possible, keeping raptor life as real as it can be for viewers around the world. However small a step we take in the right direction, everything counts. Volunteering is my way to give back to society and support the environmental issues I am passionate about. It has connected me to a larger group of like-minded people across the world. I get to follow raptors close and live vicariously with them and with their neighbors. Nothing else makes me as relaxed or as happy.

Rich King: Landowner

Rich is a regional biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the eight-state Midwest region. He works with staff from national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts to maximize conservation delivery for waterfowl, other migratory birds, and endangered species.

I got involved with the Raptor Resource Project when Bob Anderson contacted me many years to discuss raptor conservation opportunities in the Mississippi River Valley. I met Dave Kester while using raptor banding for an outdoor education program. When my wife Lori and I bought our property and realized we had nesting falcons, reaching out to RRP was a given.

Personally, my favorite thing about my falcons is my grandchildren looking forward to banding the eyasses with great anticipation. Professionally, my favorite thing is knowing that the falcons nesting on cliffs in the Mississippi River Valley is the culmination of Bob Anderson’s vision and a direct result of the Raptor Resource Project’s conservation efforts. I wish that people better understood the connection between some everyday choices they make and their impacts on wildlife. The use of pesticides and their impacts on raptors is a classic example. Even small decisions can have a big impact on wildlife and wild lands. I would really like to see people further develop their appreciation for the area’s geography, history, and wildlife and turn that appreciation into conservation action.

Note: If you have peregrine falcons on your bluff property, please feel welcome to reach out to us! We’d love to talk to you. Please email Amy Ries at [email protected]. Interested in preserving the bluffs, farmlands, wetlands, prairies, or streams on your land? Check out your local land trust organization.