Happy Thanksgiving! As we approach the end of 2022, 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 72st birthday today: 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.
HM and HD work on their nest and deepen their bond. Mr. North and DNF at the North Nest. N1 nestorations in Decorah. November 14, 2022: HM near N1? I'll admit that I still struggle with ID sometimes! A watcher mentioned her 'hair' similarity to Rod Stewart - a great ID tip for me! November 7, 2022: HM (left) and HD (right) at N1. See the eagle heart? October 30, 2022: An American Kestrel - North America's smallest falcon Mr. North in autumn April 17, 2022: DN15 slumbers blissfully away in the North nest April 18, 2022: Mother Goose in N2B April 17, 2022: A handsome Tom turkey at the North Nest October 13, 2022: Magnificent HD waits to fish the hatchery pond. October 13, 2022: Sandhill cranes gathering at the Flyway. Families migrate together in the fall, gathering in large flocks as they roost, feed, compete, dance, display, and lance my heart with their incredible vocalizations. October 9, 2022: A stunning sunrise from the top of Great Spirit Bluff. John hard at work on the new camera system. Kike working on camera replacement. Amy trimming on the Skywalk. We got it trimmed back to the end! December 9, 2021: It's always thrilling to see and hear the arrival of tundra swans - the heralds of winter - on the Flyway. Follow for four Flyway foraging stories! https://www.raptorresource.org/2021/10/29/four-foraging-stories-from-the-flyway/ November 5, 2021: DNF and Mr. North: https://youtu.be/xqtKfRyOY0g.
"“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile." January 16, 2022: Snowy Owl on The Flyway January 23, 2022: A short-eared owl on the Flyway January 22: Unknown falcon at Great Spirit Bluff January 1, 2022: DM2 and Mom on the Y-Branch - two treasured eagles in a treasured place. RRP Board and new Director July 30: D36 at N2B
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. 2022 was complicated by avian flu. Should we band? We decided to band at some sites and step up monitoring efforts at all of them. In 2022, 25 sites produced 69 falcons – not a record year, but not bad, either – and I know that some Midwest banders had a banner year! You are all awesome…and great fun, too!
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: https://www.raptorresource.org/2022/05/08/watching-bald-eagles/. The Raptor Resource Project wishes you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!