Today was my first visit to The Raptor Center in St. Paul. Established in 1974 as part of the Univ. of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, the center rehabilitates more than 700 sick and injured raptors each year. I learned about all sorts of raptors: hawks, falcons and kestrels, eagles, owls and osprey, as well as the turkey vulture. Raptors are characterized by a hooked beak, strong feet with sharp talons, keen eyesight, and a carnivorous diet.

Did you know the peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 200mph? That the bald eagle has 7,000 feathers? How about that the Northern Saw-whet owl is one of the smallest owls, standing at 7 inches tall? Or that if humans’ eyes were proportionately equivalent to owls’ huge eyes and their skull, we’d have eyes the size of tennis balls?

Today’s photo is of a juvenile bald eagle. They don’t get their characteristic white color markings until 4-5 years of age.

Trivia: When is a minute 61 seconds? Tonight actually. At the last minute before midnight on June 30, I learned that the UTC will be adding a leap second. This is the 25th leap seconds that’s been added since 1972. About every 1.5 years, one extra second is added to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). This accounts for the fact that the Earth’s rotation slows down over time while the atomic clocks we use to measure time tick away at almost the same speed over millions of years.

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