Message from the Director

GSB - View North

View from the North Bluff, GSB

We have had an exciting start to 2016 at the Raptor Resource Project and spring has arrived early in Decorah and the River Bluffs of the La Crosse area. I recently visited our property north of La Crescent, MN where I grew up. Many of you may know it as Great Spirit Bluff – home of the GSB peregrine falcons. I was captivated again by the beauty of the river bluffs as spring sets in and the last few chunks of ice float down the Mississippi River. Like many times before, I was greeted by a falcon sitting high up in a tree. I caught it just long enough to see it take flight and soar off in the breeze. Then a wood pecker darted past me deeper into the security of the woods. My visit was fairly short, just long enough to soak up the smell, sights, and sounds of nature and wonder how I could leave such a place to head back to the city. As I walked up the trail, my footsteps covered the fresh tracks of turkeys and rabbits that had visited before me. I felt refreshed knowing that I’d be back soon to work on cameras, band falcons, and for frequent travels south to Decorah – to the new RRP office, Decorah friends, and of course our wonderful eagles!

Turkey Tracks in the snow

Turkey Tracks, GSB

One thing that I really look forward to is picking up the RRP mail and reading letters from RRP supporters. I can easily understand why Bob Anderson was so vigilant and dedicated to keeping the raptor cams on-line, especially the Decorah Eagles. That one primary task was of utmost importance and I remember so well our call network enacted when a video feed was off-line and how Amy or I would work with Bob to restore it ASAP! The reason for that dedication is the great enjoyment these raptor cams give to you the viewer. It is hard to explain the satisfaction and pride that wells up as we read over your comments of appreciation and thanks for opening that window into the lives of the Decorah Eagles, falcons, hawks, and geese to name a few. School kids and their creative teachers gaze and delight in the antics of Mom and Dad playing tug-of-war with a branch to be woven into the nest, or watch young falcons gaze out into the river valley, following swallows, their heads moving from side-to-side in concert as if watching a tennis match.

Decorah North Nest

BE in the Decorah North Nest

A lot has happened since January. We successfully launched our Decorah North Nest (DNN) eagle cam with Explore.org and have been able to watch in awe as we learn about a new Decorah eagle pair. We have 3 eggs at both Decorah and DNN and the excitement is ramping up as we get ready to welcome our first eaglet of the season! Peregrine falcons have returned from their annual journey and eggs have even been laid at a few nests. Michelle has returned to Great Spirit Bluff with a new mate, younger and without identification bands. Dave Kester and Amy Ries have been out surveying the bluffs and we have a good report from them regarding falcon numbers!

Thanks to our board member John Dingley and the Minneapolis/St.Paul Irish community, we held a successful fundraiser to support the Philippine Eagle (PE) Jungle cam scouting trip. Neil Rettig and Kike Arnal accompanied a Cornell University team to the Philippines to identify potential nest cam sites and strategize on the technologies that could bring a PE jungle cam to the world. We will know more in the coming months about the outlook and what will be needed to make it a reality.

Decorah Original Nest

Decorah’s Original Nest

We are looking forward to a very exciting season and hope to keep your interest and earn your support! At our December Board meeting, we developed an Education Committee and a Fundraising Committee. These two groups will help us to continue on with the Raptor Resource Project’s mission and legacy that Bob created.

Our new Decorah office is filling up with equipment and we will be spending some more time there as Spring returns…one of these days. March weather madness continues to bring reminders of winter here in the North country!

A big thanks to our Ustream, Facebook, and Social Media Moderators! Our volunteers are what make the Raptor Resource Project special and we could not do it without their dedication and energy. Again – thank you for your support and keep the letters coming – we love to hear how these beautiful raptors have enhanced your lives and helped you engage in nature’s wonders.

John