Wild Birds Collected by Minnesota for Iowa
The utility company Minnesota Power has been helping conservation officials in Iowa for over ten years by collecting raptor chicks and shipping them south. Once in Iowa, the birds are located in wild areas where they once lived, but were wiped out due to contamination by pesticides.
The birds are osprey chicks. Utility workers find them in nests on top of their utility transmission structures, and carefully bring them down to ground level where they are taken into custody. After a short journey, the osprey are released in northwest and west-central Iowa near waterways where they can find fish for their diets. This year 12 chicks were relocated. Sixty-seven total chicks were counted in the survey area, so there are still plenty remaining in northern Minnesota.
Some of the osprey chicks are removed from the area north of Brainerd, Minnesota. (Brainerd was also part of the setting for the movie Fargo, which was directed by native Minnesotans Joel and Ethan Cohen). The area is known for having hundreds of lakes, and being a popular destination for fishing and boating.
“All the bird lovers in the Midwest can say there really are some positive environmental programs happening. Kids hear about them in school. Kids bring it to their parents’ attention. Those are lifelong memories. Those ospreys are their ospreys, ” said Iowa Osprey Program manager Pat Schlarbaum said of the interstate cooperation.
Ospreys are not hawks or eagles, but some people call them fish hawks. They are actually classified near the kite familiy. They mainly eat fish, and weigh between 2 and 5 pounds.
The banning of DDT allowed some of the osprey populations to begin to recover, “Osprey populations have shown a gradual increase since DDT and similar substances were banned in the United States in 1972. By 1981, 8,000 osprey pairs existed in the continental 48 states, and by 1994 a national survey tallied 14,109 pairs.”
Image Credit: MBisanz