GALLERY: Amazing raptors showcased at Northfield's Bluebird Expo - Northfield MN: News

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GALLERY: Amazing raptors showcased at Northfield's Bluebird Expo

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Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 4:18 pm | Updated: 11:19 pm, Tue Apr 16, 2013.

Majestic, beautiful big birds spread wings on stage at the Bluebird Expo in Northfield.

Live birds of prey from the Minnesota Raptor Center were showcased during the expo on Saturday at Northfield Middle School.

Bluebird fans and curious families watched in amazement, while some asked questions about the strong, delicate creatures.

Tiffany Ploehn, educational programmer with the Minnesota Raptor Center, carefully showed a female bald eagle, “Max,” a peregrine falcon named “Juneau,” an eastern screech owl, “Mista,” and a female barn own, “Whisper.”

Each big bird embodies a unique personality, Ploehn said who told audience members how each raptor needs to build trust with its trainer.

Since many raptors are injured, the birds need to feel safe before venturing out of a protected crate to a place unlike home, in front of a live audience.

Good attendance numbers supported the all-day expo, according to expo co-chair, Carrol Johnson who also serves as a state coordinator for the Bluebird Recovery Program in Minnesota.

“We had good attendance and good compliments from the people who came in the door; it was a really satisfying program for those of us who put it on,” Johnson said.

A third in attendance was new to learning about bluebirds, he reported. Many came to find out how the bluebird recovery program works or to hear one of the educational programs presented.

Like the amazing raptors.

Gail Buhl, education program manager at Minnesota Raptor Center located on the University of Minnesota-St. Paul campus, said community outreach programs like this are vital to getting their message out.

“Our raptor mission is three fold with our conservation to help raptors and the world sharing of our teaching and research,” Buhl said. Last year the center aided more than 800 injured or orphaned raptors that needed rehabilitation.

The teaching clinic helps get the public engaged. “We teach other veterinarians about raptors, and we have veterinarians from around the world who want to study here,” Buhl added. Hopes are after seeing the strong, fragile raptor creatures, Buhl said people will want to preserve the integrity of the shoreline and ecosystem, and will be careful to avoid dispersing chemicals down storm drains.

Co-chair, JENean Mortenson said more than 350 people attended the Bluebird Expo.

“The bald eagle was so breathtaking — everyone oohed and awed,” Mortenson said. This was the fourth year the Bluebird Expo included the Minnesota Raptor Center in its program lineup.

“It was so well received one lady brought her three grandchildren down just to see them, and that was really heartwarming,” said Mortenson.

Besides raptors, many learned about the mission of the Bluebird Recovery Program in Minnesota. The average bluebird lifespan is two to three years, but with support from volunteers, some bluebirds are able to live up to seven years.

Kara Hildreth can be reached at 507-645-1113.

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