We’re lucky to share our campus with some pretty fascinating creatures. Owls, tree frogs, chipmunks, and more all make their home here with us. Meet some of our wild residents and the teaching animals who live with us.
Great Horned Owls are the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas. They eat a large variety of prey items and can thrive in diverse habitats including deciduous, coniferous or mixed forests, mountains, prairies, and rural areas. They are well adapted for camouflage and silent hunting. Great Horned Owls can live 10-15 years in the wild and 20-30 years in captivity.
Several years ago, a local wildlife rehabilitator received an injured Great Horned Owl from the Grand Marais area. The owl was brought to the Raptor Center in St. Paul for medical attention where they determined he has permanent visual defects in both eyes. Hunter, as we now call him, came to Wolf Ridge’s education program during the summer of 2004. Great Horned Owls come in many shades to help with camouflage. Hunter is a very light-colored great horned owl.
Red-tailed Hawks are common across the entire continent of North America. They can be found as far north as Alaska and as far south as Central America. Red-tailed hawks prefer habitats of open terrain with places to perch including grasslands, deserts, marshes, and cities. Look for them along roadways – they love to perch on light posts and hunt in the mowed grasses along freeways.
Ruby was injured in 2009 when she was just a few months old. She was brought to the Raptor Center in St. Paul where the tear in her wing healed but she is permanently blind in her left eye. She came to Wolf Ridge later in 2009 and she has been fulfilling her role as an ambassador animal ever since. During the Raptor presentation at Wolf Ridge, Ruby gets to fly over the crowd, showing off her fan-shaped tail characteristic of soaring birds.
The American Kestrel is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. They feed on a variety of small prey items including mice, voles, shrews, small birds, butterflies, grasshoppers, and other insects. When they are perched they often bob their tails. Look for Kestrels in the wild on power lines along highways or open fields.
Tuuli was found near a road in the Twin Cities, he probably collided with a car, and was taken to the Raptor Center for medical care. He had a fracture in his wing which healed, however, he is permanently blind in his left eye. Tuuli has been at Wolf Ridge since the spring of 2016. His name comes from the Finnish word for wind.
Eastern Screech Owls inhabit coniferous and deciduous forests as well as cities, suburbs, and rural areas with sufficient tree cover. Ear tufts and patterned plumage make these owls masters of camouflage. They spend their days roosting in cavities and their nights hunting in a sit-and-wait fashion. While they are not native to the area surrounding Wolf Ridge, many of our visitors come from locations where Eastern Screech Owls might live.
Our Eastern Screech Owl, whom we call Warner, was injured when he ran into the window of an elementary school in Faribault, MN. He was sent to the Raptor Center to recover. Unfortunately, as a result of the accident, he is blind in his right eye and cannot be released to the wild, as he would have impaired hunting ability. Warner is named after Warner Nature Center where he spent 9 years of his life as an education animal. Warner came to Wolf Ridge in the fall of 2019 after Warner Nature Center sadly closed.
Ravens are widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are scavengers and will eat almost anything they can find including carrion (dead animals), eggs, insects, arthropods, fish, berries, and seeds. They are incredibly intelligent and playful animals. Wild ravens can be seen performing aerobatic rolls and dives in flight. Every day here at Wolf Ridge, Korppi the raven gets several puzzles that she must solve to get at her food inside. Sometimes students in birds class get to create these puzzles and watch Korppi’s intelligence at work.
Korppi was found and thought to be an orphan when she was just learning to fly and was taken in by someone. She wasn’t taught how to be a wild raven by her parents, so she would struggle to survive in the wild. Korppi has been at Wolf Ridge since 2012.
Sometimes when birds are learning to fly they will end up on the ground, but their parents are usually nearby out of sight, keeping an eye out. If you find a baby bird, leave it where it is and call a local wildlife rehabilitator or your state’s Department of Natural Resources to find out what you can do to help.
Chipmunks are curious, active residents of the Northwoods. Their diet consists mostly of nuts, seeds, berries, and fruit but they will also eat some insects and snails. They spend most of their time gathering and storing food in caches. During the winter they enter a state of torpor, sleeping for long stretches and waking up every few weeks to eat stored food.
Juniper came to Wolf Ridge after he was orphaned during the summer of 2019. Like wild chipmunks, Juniper likes to store food in expandable cheek pouches and cache it in various locations for later consumption.
Wolf Ridge is also home to a variety of Northern Minnesota fish, two Big Brown Bats, a Grey Tree Frog, a Red-eared Slider, a Bullsnake, and two Tiger Salamanders.