Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! As we approach the end of 2023, 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 73rd birthday tomorrow: a good time to remember where we started. The Raptor Resource Project is sustained by its mission: to conserve birds of prey, educate people around the world about raptors and their habitats, and transform knowledge and passion into conservation action. And we follow our vision: to deepen the connection between people and the natural world, bringing benefits to both. Here are some things we’re thankful for!

Bob and Brett with D1
RRP Founder Bob Anderson and Biologist Brett Mandernack with Bald Eagle D1 in 2011
Thankful for Bob Anderson

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 thankful 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 I quickly moved into field work. 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.

Thankful for Volunteers and Watchers

I’m thankful for our volunteers: the camera operators and video makers who find, document, and share special moments; the moderators who educate, entertain, and relate the stories of the birds we watch; and the surveyors, falcon caretakers, and photographers who help us keep track of raptor activity at over 50 sites. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support. We couldn’t do this without you!

I am also thankful for our community of 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 give us the joy of community and my life is better for having known you.

In this season of reflection, let’s soar on the wings of appreciation. Our shared journey has been one of discovery, learning, and the unspoken connection with the majestic birds that grace our skies. The Raptor Resource Project is more than an organization; it’s a family of passionate individuals committed to the conservation and celebration of our winged companions.

Thankful for Partners

I am thankful for our partners: landowners, power companies, grain companies, building owners, USFWS and DNR staff, and everyone else who has 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 2023, we banded 81 falcons at 25 sites over roughly 30 days! What an amazing success! You are all awesome…and great fun, too!

Thankful for the RRP Crew

And finally, I am thankful for our crew. In the years since Bob’s passing, Director John Howe has worked diligently to research and deploy the best cameras and streaming technology, expand our online educational offerings, build new partnerships, honor Bob’s legacy, and secure funding. Dave Kester has come into his own as a master bird bander and banding station director, experiential conservation educator, and mentor. Brett Mandernack, Ryan Schmitz, and Jeff Worrell have taken our eagle tracking research to new heights. Laura Johnson has provided critical insights and care for wounded raptors, including a few of our bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Our Board members have provided vital direction, networking, and financial stewardship. I wish that Bob was here to see what we’ve done and I hope we’ve earned your trust and support!

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/2023/04/13/watching-bald-eagles/. The Raptor Resource Project wishes you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!