I recently sold a lens to a person that suggested I join the Twin Cities Photography Group on Meetup. I wasn’t familiar with the group, but learned that it has over 1,000 members and multiple events each week. I signed up, confident there would be an event of interest sooner rather than later. Just a few days after joining I received an email about a “Raptor Release” down at The Raptor Center.
Being new to the cities I had never heard of The Raptor Center, which is a part of the U of M veterinary school. They take in wounded or abandoned birds and rehabilitate or find new homes for them. They also keep birds that cannot be released for one reason or another (mostly if they are not able to fly due to injury) which they use to educate the public. Once a year they have a “release party” for the birds they are able to release back into the wild. During the party they display their resident birds for the public and have volunteers available to handle the birds and answer questions from the crowd.
Armed with a long lens and my DSLR, I decided to head down for an hour or so to work on my skills, and to hopefully grab a nice shot or two along the way. It was a dreary day, and I arrived just as the event started, but it was already packed with people wanting a chance to see some of these amazing birds.
They are enormous and majestic – such gorgeous birds.
One of the three males was a juvenile – just 4 years old – and hadn’t yet grown his adult plumage. Look at the size of him compared to the handler! Even though it takes 5 years for a bald eagle to reach adulthood, they are fully grown just 90 days after hatching.
Apparently the feathers of juvenile eagles are more robust and not as delicate as those of adult birds. We were told to think of them as “training wheels” and that it is easier for young birds to learn to fly with these feathers.
One of my favorites was the Barn Owl. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before – it’s unique face was striking.
I had a fantastic time at the Raptor Release party. I enjoyed seeing and learning about these incredible birds while working to improve my photography (particularly camera handling and exposure). Walking away with a few nice pictures of the birds was an added bonus. If you’d like to see more of my photos from the Raptor Release Party, you can check out a slideshow here.