Stories tagged raptors

I want to fly like an eagle to the sea.....
fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me.

The Minnesota Arboretum has a very cool webcam aimed at an osprey nest on its grounds. You can access it here. The osprey couple is taking turns sitting on the two eggs and protecting them from nefarious mischief. When those chicks hatch, they'll be hungry, consuming 1-3 pounds of food each day rounded up by their parents.

Here's some pretty intense video of a red-tailed hawk trying to get a little eggy meal at a bald eagle nest in New Jersey. Let's just say it doesn't go well for the hawk.

The first two of Belinda's five eggs hatched early this morning. (Belinda is the resident peregrine falcon in the nest box at the King power plant in Bayport, MN.)

Chicks 1 and 2: Baby peregrines are helpless at first, and are cared for by both parents. But they grow at an astonishing rate, and should be ready to leave the nest for the first time by the end of June or the beginning of July.
Chicks 1 and 2: Baby peregrines are helpless at first, and are cared for by both parents. But they grow at an astonishing rate, and should be ready to leave the nest for the first time by the end of June or the beginning of July.Courtesy Xcel Energy/Raptor Resource Project

The other eggs, if they hatch at all, should follow in the next few days.

For more on peregrine falcons, visit our 2011 peregrine cam page.

The fourth, and last, of the peregrine falcon eggs in the nest box at the Sherco power plant hatched sometime on Saturday. The hatchlings may be helpless, clumsy, and funny looking now, but in a few months they'll be sleek, fearsome avian predators. Keep watching the falcon cam, or the daily stills, until they fledge in a few months.

Laugh it up now...: ...but watch out later. These guys are going to be FIERCE.
Laugh it up now...: ...but watch out later. These guys are going to be FIERCE.Courtesy Raptor Resources/Xcel Energy

We have a chick!

by Liza on May. 14th, 2010

Yummy: The first-hatched Sherco chick of 2010 enjoys a little breakfast.
Yummy: The first-hatched Sherco chick of 2010 enjoys a little breakfast.Courtesy Raptor Resources/Xcel Energy
Almost out: We should see two more chicks make their debut appearance any time now.
Almost out: We should see two more chicks make their debut appearance any time now.Courtesy Raptor Resources/Xcel Energy
The first of the eggs out at the Sherco nest box has hatched, and it looks like two others are well on their way.

Outfielders have been doing a great job of catching flies at the new Target Field baseball stadium. And they also have some help in catching moths flying around the lights during night games. A kestrel takes up residence at the top of the rightfield foul pole during the games and patrols the green outfield for the flying bugs. And fans seem to enjoy it. Here are a couple videos of the Target Field interloper.

Here's some fan-made video of the kestrel in action:

They have lots of tasty new food options at Target Field. It's good to know that "moth" is being eaten there as well!!!

New on the block: Seven new bald eagle nest sites have been spotted this spring along the Mississippi River Recreation Area stretching through the Twin Cities.
New on the block: Seven new bald eagle nest sites have been spotted this spring along the Mississippi River Recreation Area stretching through the Twin Cities.Courtesy Wknight94
We all know that the housing market has been in the tank for the past few years. But there's one segment of the Twin Cities area population that's been experiencing a building boom: bald eagles. Seven new nests have been spotted this spring along the 72 miles of riverbank that make up the Mississippi River National Recreation Area that stretches through the Twin Cities. That's a 25 percent increase from past nesting reports. You can read all about this eagle census right here. The end of the story tells of the job naturalists will be undertaking later this spring, climbing up to retrieve the newly-hatched eaglets to be tested and banded, all while parental eagles are swooping and squawking around.

Sep
10
2009

Pshhhheeeewww!: Science everywhere!
Pshhhheeeewww!: Science everywhere!Courtesy SiamEye
I don’t even know where to begin today! All I can think is “OMG!!!!” And each exclamation point I think is like a blood vessel bursting in my brain!

OMG pop pop pop

So why is this a day of excitement, instead of quiet family tragedy? Because the biggest explosions today aren’t happening in little tubes in my head, they’re happening in the world of science! (I don’t consider the physiology of my head to be science. More like magic. Or trial and error.) I just don’t know what to do with all this science.

See, unlike your average Friday Extravaganza, a Thursday Explosion has no focus; it’s just kind of all over the place. A mess! There are all these stories, but we really have to stretch to fit them into a single post… so the loose theme of this explosion will, fittingly, be “flying things.” Am I not helping? Just wait, you’ll see.

Normal mouse becomes flying mouse, doesn’t care!
Check it out: a baby mouse was put into a little chamber and subjected to an intense magnetic field. What happened? All the water in the mouse’s body was levitated. And because those squishy little mice are so full of water, the mouse itself levitated along with the water.

Unfortunately, the first mouse wasn’t quite ready for life as an aviator, and upon levitation, he began to, as scientists say, “flip his Schmidt.” Lil’ mousey started kicking, and spinning, and with minimal resistance in the chamber, he started spinning faster and faster. He was removed from the machine, and put wherever little mice go to relax. Subsequent floating mice were given a mild sedative before flying (pretty much the same thing my mom does), and they seemed cool with it. Now and again the floating mice would drift out of the region of the magnetic field, but upon falling back into it they’d float right back up. After remaining in a levitating state for several hours, the mice got used to it, and even ate and drank normally. Afterwards, the mice had no apparent ill-effects from the experiment (rats had previously been made to live in non-levitating magnetic fields for 10 weeks, and they seemed fine too.)

Aside from the excitement normally associated with floating mice, the experiment is promising in that it may be a useful way to study the effects of long term exposure to microgravity without bringing a subject to space.
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Great tits are dangerous if you’re a sleepy bat!

It’s true! Forget everything you thought you knew about great tits and get schooled once again, my friends, for great tits are killers!

I’m not talking about the senseless murder of bugs, either—everybody already knew that great tits are primarily insectivores. A population of great tits in Hungary have been observed hunting bats!

As fun as it is to keep writing “great tits” with no explanation, I suppose we should be clear that great tits are a type of song bird common in Europe and Asia. Little, bat-hunting songbirds.

Meat eating great tits had been reported in other parts of Europe, but it was thought that those individuals had only consumed already-dead animals. The tits of Hungary were actually observed flying into bat caves, where they would capture tiny, hibernating pipistrelle bats and drag them out of the cave to devour them alive. It even appeared that the birds had learned to listen for the bats’ disturbed squeaking (or, as I like to think of it, their horrified shrieking)—when the same noise (which is too high for humans to hear) was played back for captured tits, 80% of the birds became interested (read: bloodthirsty) at the sound.

If it really is just the Hungarian population that engages in this behavior, the situation also brings up the possibility of culture in the birds. That is, if this isn’t some sort of innate behavior, but something learned and taught, and passed through generations that way, it could be considered culture. Amazing! Great tits are cultured!

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Flying velociraptors!

Well, not so much flying as falling. But falling with purpose. (What was it Buzz Lightyear said? Oh yeah, “I’m so lonely all the time.”)

We all know about how awesome raptors are. I think it’s part of kindergarten curriculum now, just between how not to accidentally poison yourself, and why you shouldn’t swear and hit. Well, I remember reading a news item a couple years ago about how some paleontologists were thinking that raptors’ famous giant toe claws may not have been for disemboweling their prey. Instead, the scientists proposed, raptors would lodge the massive claw into the skin of their prey with a kick, and then use it to hang on to the unlucky animal while the raptor went bite-crazy. The researchers had made a simulation of a raptor claw, and found that it could easily puncture thick skin and flesh, it didn’t seem to be sharp enough to actually cut the skin. (Cutting is necessary for a good disemboweling.) One might argue over the strength and sharpness of raptor claws, considering that the fossilized bone claws we see in museums would have been covered with a tough, horny substance, which did not fossilize, but whatever—the new scenario was still pretty cool.

Now, the same group of paleontologists is proposing that raptor claws were also well suited to tree climbing. Raptors could have waited on overhanging limbs, and then pounced on their prey from above. Pretty neat! The researchers point out that the microraptor a tiny relative of the velociraptor, had feathered limbs to help it glide down from high places, so it’s not a stretch to think that its cousins were comfortable in trees too. “The leg and tail musculature,” one scientist says, “show that these animals are adapted for climbing rather than running.”

I’ll take his word for it, I guess, but I do have some questions on that point. There’s a dromaeosaur (it looks a lot like a velociraptor) skeleton here at the museum, and I seem to remember that its tale was supposed to be very stiff—it has these cartilage rods running the length of the tail to keep it rigid. I feel like a long, stiff tail would be a pain in the butt up in a tree. It’s not the sort of thing arboreal animals invest in these days. Also, I wonder what sort of vegetation was around in the areas raptors lived. Plenty of big trees with good, raptor-supporting limbs? (I’m not implying that there weren’t, I’m just curious.)

The researchers do acknowledge that tree climbing wouldn’t have been every raptor’s cup of tea, however. Species like the utahraptor, weighing many hundreds of pounds, and measuring about 20 feet in length would have been “hard put to find a tree they could climb.”

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Pretty neat stuff, huh? Explosions usually are. But you see now why I couldn’t wait for three posts to get it all out there.