It's a Release Double-Header!!

Barred Owl release This week, we had double the fun!

Double Header Part I:

The barred owl pictured below came to us on September 21st with a head injury- it may have been hit by a car.  We would like to thank Sam Warner for finding the bird and getting RARE involved!  After treatment and rest at our clinic, it transitioned to our flight cage early in the second week of October. 

Barred Owl release!

This week, Hannah Clark was able to release this beautiful bird. Hannah is a second year veterinary technician student from Burlington.

Photos by Hannah Clark

Double Header Part II:

The barred owl pictured below came to us right at the end of September, after being found by a construction worker at a site in Iowa City. After being evaluated, the owl was treated with medicine and rest. He was able to graduate to the flight cage after about 10 days.  We are excited that we were able to release him back to nature this week!

Bon Voyage!

Our raptor rehab volunteer, Eric, opening the box to release the owl.

The barred owl is on its way!

Photos by Erin Melloy

A Warm Thank You

Remember just last week when we shared the great news about our new incubator?  Well today we have even more great news - the new incubator has already arrived at the RARE clinic!  Here is our very happy veterinary technician and field team member Michele, who championed the campaign, with our new Baby Warm incubator.

The RARE Group would very much like to thank all of our donors once again for helping us continue our care of Iowa's wildlife.  Without your kindness and generosity, we would not be able to do what we do.

The RARE Group would also like to thank Baby Warm once again for their work to provide opportunities like this to wildlife rehabilitation groups across the country.  Because of organizations like this, so many baby animals receive the safety and warmth they need while in care.  And that fills us warm fuzzy feelings!

Be sure to follow The RARE Group on Facebook to stay up to date on news, events, and other wild happenings with RARE.

Save the Date for the 2016 Pelican Festival

Join The RARE Group at the 6th Annual Pelican Festival on Sunday, September 11 at the Hawkeye Wildlife Area near Swisher.  Exhibitors include the Iowa Ornithologist's Union, Eastern Iowa Beekeeper's Association, Iowa and Cedar County Conservation, and of course, The RARE Group. For more information, check out the Pelican Festival event page on Facebook and stay tuned for more updates from RARE as the date approaches.  As always, you can follow The RARE Group by staying up to date on news and events via our Facebook page and blog.  Thank you for your support!

2016 Pelican Festival Flyer & Map2


How Coot!

While The RARE Group’s primary focus is working with raptors, we do occasionally receive a non-raptor visitor in need of care, rehabilitation, and healing.  Case in point: the American Coot. coot 3

This American Coot arrived at the RARE clinic in mid-April due to a leg injury. RARE volunteers provided the Coot with a feast of natural grasses, plant material, and meal worms - very similar to its diet in the wild. Each day the Coot was treated to swim time in its own “pool” within the safe confines of the clinic. This allowed for exercise, strength building, comfort (floating in water took weight off the Coot’s injured leg), and gave the Coot the opportunity to engage in its natural behavior while still receiving the care it needed.

coot 2

American Coots are migratory waterbirds whose above-water appearance may lead some to believe that they are just an odd (looking) duck: their dark gray-to-black plumage, white sloping forehead and bill, and bright red eyes are indeed an unusual sight. Below the surface, however, things get even more unusual: unlike other waterbirds such as ducks and geese, coots do not have webbed feet. Instead, each one of the Coot’s long toes has broad lobes of skin that help it kick through the water. The broad lobes fold back each time the bird lifts its foot, so it doesn’t impede walking on dry land, though it supports the bird’s weight on wet or muddy ground.

coot 1

In the wild, Coots inhabit a variety of freshwater wetlands from prairie ponds to inlets, marshes, reservoirs, along the edges of lakes, and even in roadside ditches. They prefer heavy stands of emergent aquatic vegetation along at least some portion of the shoreline. Nests are almost always built over water on floating platforms and almost always associated with dense stands of living or dead vegetation such as reeds, cattails, bulrushes, sedges, and grasses. As migratory visitors to the Midwest, Coots arrive in the spring and summer months to breed and nest, returning to the southeastern US in the winter. Some Coots also live year-round in the southern and western portions of the US as well as Mexico, Central America, Cuba, and the Caribbean.

coots wild

To learn more about the American Coot, check out the links below.  And as always, follow The RARE Group on Facebook and subscribe to the RARE blog for updates, events, and to learn more about raptor rehabilitation.

Audubon Society

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds

Creance Flight

Recently a group of RARE field team members gathered for an exciting occasion: RARE's first creance flight of a juvenile red-tailed hawk.  Creance flying is a an alternative form of exercise used in raptor rehabilitation when a flight cage is not available and allows the bird to rebuild the muscle and strength required for its eventual release back into the wild.  This method of rehabilitation conditioning involves placing leather straps, or jesses, around the bird’s legs and then attaching the jesses to a long leash or tether.  The bird is then able to fly on its own while still in a controlled environment, enabling rehabbers to observe the bird in flight in order to assess its progress and ability. In the photo below, a RARE field team member demonstrates the proper way to fit the leather straps, or jesses, on the hawk's legs. Jesses are removable and are designed to comfortably fit each individual raptor species.  The tether can be up to 300 feet long - the one used by RARE on this occasion was 100 feet - and enables the rehabber to gently draw an in-flight bird back toward him- or herself should it come close to reaching the full length of the line.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk can be identified by its white chest, lack of red tail feathers, and yellow (as opposed to brown) eyes.  The adult characteristics of a red-tail begin to appear in the hawk's second year of life.

Wearing proper safety gear, RARE executive director Luke prepares for the hawk's first creance flight.

Following treatment and recovery at the RARE clinic for a couple of months, this hawk was ready for some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.

The RARE field team gave the hawk plenty of time and space to get acclimated to wearing the jesses and creance.

And we have lift-off!  With a little help from Luke, the hawk took to flight.

Subscribe to the RARE blog or follow the RARE Facebook page for more updates on this hawk's progress and other wild adventures in raptor rehabilitation.

- DF