General Discussion : Baron at the Minnesota Raptor Center

Hi there!

This last weekend my family and I had the opportunity to meet and greet Baron, an education kestrel that I help support at the Raptor Center in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.  His human companion, Gail, is a manager there and told us about the many things the Raptor Center does to help injured birds and especially hatchlings who are in trees that have been or need to be cut down.

Fifteen years ago, Baron was imprinted on the people that tried to feed him and his brothers after their nest home came crashing down.  He and his siblings were found to be afraid of other kestrels and could not be returned to the wild, so now he serves as a handsome little ambassador for his species.

My family learned about how the Raptor Center uses hack boxes - a way to acclimate foundling birds to the outdoors so that they can live a normal life.

The Raptor Center has three other education kestrels, all recently taken under their wing because of blindness or physical inability to fly.  They have enormous respect for all their birds and stress the development and maintenance of trust.  I was so excited to meet Baron!   But his story and his living in a bird's twilight zone with caring humans only reinforces how kestrels are truly themselves in the wild.   Even captive kestrels know it's mating season right now.


Sarah Schulwitz's picture

That can be so special to have a meaningful (and safe) encounter with another species. We have several education birds here at the World Center for Birds of Prey that become the "face" for a species. After encountering these education birds, visitors, volunteers, and staff feel a greater sense of connection to these animals and we hope that leads to increased interest and awareness of wildlife and conservation. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We are so happy that you and Baron have crossed paths!

Jill from MN's picture

I have a sad update to the story of my beautiful kestrel friend from the Raptor Center.  Sometime in June, as a result of suffering a great deal of pain, Baron had to be put down.  He had just become fifteen years old not too long before.  

A charming bird.  My last sight of him was of him 'dancing' from one end of his perch to the other, showing off the underside of his wings.

The remaining educator kestrels at the Raptor Center:  Malar, male; Darner, female; Violet, female; and Siena, female.   I will definitely continue to contribute to the sponsorship fund that supports all of the education birds at TRC;  renewing will now be in Baron's memory as well as Zephyr's.

Sarah Schulwitz's picture

We are so sorry to hear of your loss and the loss for the Raptor Center in Falcon Heights, Minnesota with the death of Baron, the American Kestrel. He certainly lived a long life and he undoubtedly inspired many people to learn more about American Kestrels and other falcons. Education efforts like that and like ours here at the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, ID, are so important in that they inspire folks to contribute to the protection of species in the wild. Thank you for sharing this news with us and thanks for your partnership in conservation.  

Jill from MN's picture

Some kestrel sponsoring news from me:  I have now adopted one of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center's female American Kestrels, in memory of Zephyr and Baron.  Her name is Sienna, and her age is not certain.  She was found a few years ago, unable to fly, in a field near Wabasha, MN (home of the National Eagle Center).  In fact she had suffered an amputation of her outer wing digit, which had healed over by the time she was rescued.  Sienna was also somewhat used to people. Perhaps, as it was for Baron, some people had tried to help a little bird in distress not that long before.

Sienna still cannot fly to this day without her missing 'thumb', but her friends at the Raptor Center provide her with enrichment activities when she is not making her rounds as an education bird.  I can't wait to meet and greet her, and I will ask what I can bring for her recreation time.

Jill from MN's picture

I've been told that pretty little Sienna is now in an adapted 'free-lofting' situation at the Raptor Center, where she can hop around and chew on things without a lot of risk of getting hurt when she loses her balance.   (She has no primaries at all on her right wing)   She is said to chew on everything - rope, enrichment toys, quail wings, etc..   Think I'll bring some Kong toys when I visit later on this spring, so she can have fun foraging for treats.

Posted in General Discussion by Jill from MN 3 years 1 month ago.