Raptor Release 2012


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.

Nero, the center’s only turkey vulture, is 36 years old.

It was incredible to be able to see bald eagles up close and personal.

They are enormous and majestic – such gorgeous birds.



There were four bald eagles on display, three males and one female. As with all raptors, the female was bigger than the boys weighing in at 10.5lbs compared to their 8lbs.

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.


An American Kestrel on his perch.

Perhaps the cutest bird at the event (and certainly the smallest), this is a Boreal Owl.


They also had a few Peregrine Falcons on display.

One of my favorites was the Barn Owl. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before – it’s unique face was striking.



She grew a little nervous as the crowd got bigger and bigger.


And last but not least was the Great Horned Owl, one of the biggest owls in Minnesota.



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.


  1. Aunt Mary says:

    what great photos!! Love that cute little Boreal owl!!

  2. AMAZING, Regal Bird Photos – thanks for sharing!

  3. Awesome photos! My favorite is the Boreal Owl. Cuteness!

  4. Suzanne says:

    Gee, Kate, once again your photos and captions are so inspiring. I am hard pressed to pick my favorite. Each has something unique that is so appealing. I am so glad you are sharing your experiences.

  5. Jessica says:

    I love these photos! You did a great job capturing the personalities of the birds. I really like the barn owl.

  6. Oh yes! Good photos and some are really great! Especially I like these two:



  7. As a 4-year volunteer for The Raptor Center, I can say you’ve captured the beauty, character and intelligence of these inspirational creatures so, so well. Thanks for your great work.

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