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State gains two new residents (temporarily)

An adult male bald eagle was ready for release. 1 / 2
A young peregrine falcon was about to be released.2 / 2

By Dennis Donath

PRESCOTT--It was a beautiful autumn day at Carpenter Nature Center, northwest of Prescott. Little did we know that it would turn out to be an extraordinary day.

A van from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center arrived late in the morning with two very special passengers. One was an adult male bald eagle and the other was a young peregrine falcon.

The eagle had been struck by a car in Northern Minnesota, but survived with an injured wing. After a month’s treatment at the Raptor Center, it was ready for release. The falcon came to the Raptor Center last spring as a youngster, also with a damaged wing. It underwent successful treatment during the summer and was ready to move on.

Upon release, the eagle looked around, made a hard right turn, flew across the St. Croix River and continued into Wisconsin until it was out of sight. Whether it will stay in Wisconsin is unknown, although there is a good chance it might show up somewhere along our rivers this winter.

The peregrine falcon took off like it had some sort of plan. It circled the nature center several times, gaining altitude until it was not much more than a speck in the sky. It then turned east and soared across the St. Croix into Wisconsin. This bird might stay in the area or it might head south for the winter.

One of the thrills of witnessing a raptor release is seeing a magnificent creature like an eagle or a hawk getting a second chance as a result of some good people doing the right thing.

Anyone with an interest in birds is welcome to visit Carpenter Nature Center on the fourth Friday of every month to get a close-up view of birds being trapped, banded and released by a team of experts. Banding takes place in the visitor center from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. Call ahead at 651-437-4359 for directions and to let us know you are coming.

Admission is free, but the birds wouldn’t mind seeing a donation of sunflower seeds or suet.