The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota Works Hard to Heal Birds

Woodbury photographer Thanna Goff visits some of the residents at the U’s Raptor Center. Inset: Pfeiffer the hawk.

Enjoying a walk through the woods with her camera, Woodbury resident Thanna Goff had been looking forward to taking some early spring shots around Carver Lake. “I saw something in the tree, so I snuck up on it slowly so it wouldn’t fly away,” Goff says. “When I got close enough, I realized it couldn’t.”

Goff had stumbled upon a female red–tailed hawk, later named Pfeiffer. She was caught by the wing and was hanging from a branch by a piece of fishing line. Goff called local authorities, who directed her to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center in St. Paul. They dispatched local volunteers to help.

The hawk was carefully cut down and caught in a tarp by Goff and volunteers. “She was stressed and worn down,” Goff says. But Pfeiffer quickly recovered and was on her way. “It was a great experience,” Goff says. “I have a newfound appreciation for the incredible work that the Raptor Center does.”

The Raptor Center provides medical care to birds in need all over Minnesota. “We see over a thousand a year, and we have a constant case load of birds,” says Julia Ponder, executive director and veterinarian. Not only is the center focused on treating animals, but they also do research and education. “We want to understand how raptors survive in a human-impacted landscape. We want to engage people with these environmental issues. If they know them, they’ll care about them,” Ponder says.

Raptor Center
If you come across a bird in need, call the Raptor Center at 612.624.4745.
Visit to learn more.