King Soopers Helps REF Raise Funds, More Amazing Raptor Captures By Jeff Wang
Passing the Torch
Today, we are announcing that REF's Founding President, Peter Reshetniak, stepped down from his position effective March 1st, 2020. He will be replaced by Anne Price, the current Curator of Raptors. As we begin restructuring our board and seeking new opportunities for our organization, we remain focused and mindful of our goal of continuing to educate the public about raptors and the natural world.
In 1979 when the concept for REF kept inserting itself into my daily waking and sleeping routine, I took my business plan to a consultant with a good record for accuracy and his review and commentary cost me $300. "Don't do it." was his answer, "It won't work". Well, I'm still not sure about whether I should have asked for my money back, but it's now four decades later, and I'm still having REF commandeer my waking and sleeping hours. I started REF, not as a business, but as a performing arts project. I am a trained artist, and had worked as an artist and naturalist for the Denver Museum of Natural History in the very early 1970's. Within that institution I had worked with some of the very best representational (read as realistic) painters and sculptors on the planet. Regardless of how much money or time we could spend on creating the museum's famous dioramas (I worked in the Alaskan Hall and the African Hall), the net results were representations which were beautiful, but lifeless. Few people walking by the dioramas were captured for more than a couple of minutes by the museum magic. Everybody looked for the trickery of how it was all done. That became the curiosity, and rarely what was being represented.
REF removed the representational aspect of natural history, and took non-releasable raptors that would have been otherwise euthanized, retrained them, and turned them into performance artists, or ambassadors for the living ecosystems they were part of. They were dancers or singers if you will. Their living physical presence stopped people, whatever the age, dead in their tracks as we presented them in venues in which they had never been seen before. The National Western Stock Show was one of the first such large venues, and the response was overwhelming. The most common question was "Is it real?" Our school performances took off as students and teachers were bewitched by raptors flying inches away and our audiences would listen to the program content with silence, awe and respect for an hour, never losing focus. Visiting scientists from the USSR, watching one of our school programs called our lecturer an "artist." They got it; the birds were real, and they were alive!
We never saw Attention Deficit Disorder. Our performance narrations included the basics of ornithology, biology, anatomy, and ecology. They informed our audiences about the magnificent creatures before them. They could see an eagle's "eyelashes" as they watched its eyes capture everything around them.
The two dimensional cyberscreen world did not exist at that time. Our first children's book, Eagles, Hawks, Falcons and Owls of America, written by renowned raptor researcher Frances Hamerstrom and illustrated by Donald Malick with a foreword by Roger Tory Peterson, began to fly off the shelves. It would be revised three times and stay in print for 32 years. No other raptor organization had created anything like it before or since, and as you know it's now available in its best version ever authored by REF's curator and new president, Anne Price, and published by the University of New Mexico Press. Our accomplishments would continue and our imitators began to increase all over the country. Opportunities and challenges came with our success. For the rest of the story, please click here.
Peter remains on the board during this transition period as Director of Special Projects, and will assist with various operational aspects of REF as his schedule permits. Watch our Facebook page and be sure to keep up with this newsletter for future events and some exciting new programs for 2020!
Photo above by David Sargent: Peter with our 39 year old female golden eagle, whom he's worked with since she was six months old.
REF is very excited to announce that we're partnering with King Soopers and their Community Rewards Program! Do you have a Loyalty Card and digital account? Just visit https://www.kingsoopers.com/o/store-services/community-rewards , log in, and enroll to have REF receive donated funds from King Soopers and Kroger!
OUR COMMUNITY REWARDS NUMBER IS TF405. Simply log into your account, look for "Community Rewards" on the left hand side, and enter TF405. Our name will appear, and you can link your card to REF. You save on groceries, earn fuel points, and we'll receive a quarterly donation from King Soopers. Watch for periodic reminders, and please share with your friends and family!
Come join us at our Spring Open House on April 25th!
We're having our Spring Open House just after Earth Day, on Saturday April 25th from 10:30 to 1:00 PM. Come visit our birds and enjoy light refreshments, great photo opportunities, and a bit of shopping. If you haven't picked up our new coloring book, this is the perfect opportunity! Please RSVP here so we know how many guests to expect! Attendance is FREE!
Grant Ranch Goshawks
On February 23rd raptor monitor, photographer and Littleton realtor Lori Bollendonk became the luckiest raptorphile in Colorado, when she looked out her kitchen window and spotted not one, but TWO adult northern goshawks in her yard! While goshawks will migrate around and through the foothills in the winter, spotting adults is rather unusual (vs. immature birds) and sighting a PAIR is nearly a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Good thing Lori is used to grabbing her camera quickly!
A Special Anniversary Offer on all Three of Our Books!
Celebrate our 40th anniversary by purchasing our three books at this special price!
This poster is available for a limited time. Printed on heavy poster board, 11.5" x 20" . Special offer
In September, we celebrated three years since the arrival of our wonderful female bald eagle. She arrived as a timid, 18 month old sub-adult, and it's been a privilege, a lot of hard work, and a team effort that's resulted in the beautiful, confident and well-adjusted bird you see in the collage above. Thank you once again toMarilyn Stevens for continuing to take these stunning images of our "girl", now 4½ years old!
We created Colorado's first environmental license plates back in 1999. Only qualified REF members are permitted to display these on their vehicles. Tell your friends and help us put another 1,000 eagles on the highways and byways of Colorado! Just $24.95 helps spread our message that Coloradoans Respect Wildlife.
We've had many requests for Gift Cards. Thanks to the folks at Square we are now very happy to make gift cards available to everyone to give to friends, family, and total strangers! Lots of designs for raptorphiles. Currently our gift cards are only available in the electronic versions.
Thanks to our past and future partners, THF Prairie Center Development, L.L.C., THF Prairie Center Investors, L.L.C. and the City of Brighton, for creating the best intersection in Colorado just a minute or two north of our headquarters!
As the new villages grow at Prairie Center, so do the streets with cool names!
Now your purchasing and selling on e-Bay can benefit Raptor Education Foundation by designating us as a beneficiary. Just click on this link, and thank you!
We are looking for a gently-used, 25-foot RV that would serve as a mobile office for traveling programs around Colorado and further away. Or, maybe you have an SUV or pickup truck you would like to donate? We can put them to good use! Please give our office a call if you have a vehicle you think we could use! (303) 680-8500
Jeff Wang's Raptor Captures
For the past two winters, the rarest falcon in the continental US, and the largest falcon species in the world, has visited Colorado. The gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is an arctic species with a circumpolar range, but highly-migratory. This is the national bird of Iceland, and the mascot of the United States Air Force Academy. "Gyrs" are usually seen in one of three color morphs: white, gray and black. The gray birds are the most widespread around the world, and are found in Canada and Alaska, among other countries. Although Alaska does have some white falcons as well, it seems that whenever a gyr shows up south of the Dakotas or Montana, it's a gray one.
Last winter, a juvenile male was spotted at the Larimer County Landfill west of Ft. Collins, and stayed for many weeks, hunting gulls, pigeons and other birds near the dump. Birders from all over came to see him. Predictably (or perhaps not), one day he vanished, presumably to migrate back north. Raptor watchers in Colorado were thrilled when he showed up again this winter, sporting adult plumage. While we cannot be 100% certain that this is the same gyr from the winter of 2018-2019, the chances of a male, gray gyrfalcon returning to this exact spot as the bird from the previous year are astronomically-high. We have not had a gyrfalcon winter in Colorado for many years, and this dashing male is the toast of Northern Colorado! It only took Mr. Wang FIVE attempts to
obtain these beautiful shots!
Late winter is always a fantastic time for raptor-watching here in Colorado. Above and below, Jeff photographed a beautiful male American kestrel, the smallest and most colorful falcon in North America. Check out those double black malar mars below and behind the eyes, which help falcons focus on aerial prey and avoid sun glare!
This unusual-looking bald eagle may be testing your "ageing" skills. We know that bald eagles are considered mature at four to five years old, but how old is THIS bird? The eyes are very pale, but the beak is still pretty dark.
You can see that there is still quite a bit of brown at the tip of the tail, and white in the belly. Raptor Monitor and ID expert Karen Metz believes this eagle will be four years old this spring. As she often reminds us,
the beak and eye don't always match the feathers as bald eagles grow up!
Spring Storms Approaching: Can you help?
This summer we replaced the failed sprinkler system to keep our birds cool in the hot months. We acquired a new peregrine falcon, and created an extra space in an existing enclosure with the same types of materials used for the snowy owl retrofit. We've expanded our electrical service to our outside circuits to improve winter and summer demands for power, and so far, our outdoor water storage cube is doing well in our freezing temps and FEET of snow. Our next projects include several perch replacements and a retrofit of the roof in our temperature-controlled screech owl enclosure in the barn. Gotta keep those little guys warm and dry!
We are still $1,750 short. Our goal is to raise $3,000 for these projects.
Automatic Monthly Donations:Thanks to everyone who has set up a monthly donation via PayPal. We have people from both coasts, a few states in the middle, and in Colorado contributing monthly pledges automatically...thank you!!