Sunday, September 13, 2009

Banding weekend part 2

We now have two weekends - five days total - with no "skunk" days - meaning, we have banded hawks on each day. This weekend we had 16 birds - 2 red-tails, 4 merlins, 1 Coopers hawk, and the rest were Sharp-shinned hawks. The first photo shows a great new addition to the equipment set up at the blind. Reier knew Frank, the master bander, has many friends who come through to show them what we do. It is beneficial to us to have them somewhat hidden as we continue our banding operations. Reier constructed a very portable blind where the folks could be hidden, but still see (the fabric is see-through), and it is adjustable for different heights as people sit! The other person here is Frank's lovely wife, Trudi.

We were lucky enough to have three Sharp-shinned hawks AND a merlin come in fairly short order. Fellow bander Chuck, his lovely wife Nancy, and Reier show off these birds. Also wanted to take the opportunity to show how Shins look after their first year. Now keep in mind they don't get any bigger - at 6 weeks of age, they are as big as they will get. However, after that first year, their plumage goes through a pretty dramatic change, as well as the iris color in the eye. The first photo is of a passage, or hatch year, bird. The next is a bird who has gone through its first winter, and has moulted out most of the juvenile feathers. The next is of Reier releasing a passage Shin.

Now look at these beautiful merlins! The one on the left is a female - note the different band on her leg. We had to go to a size larger and this band is what we call a "lock-on" meaning, there is a little tab that we have to fold over on it, instead of the "butt-end" bands, which just meet flush against each other. The two birds were very different in plumage - I am going to do some looking to see if one might be a Richardsons and one might be a columbarius, two different sub-species. The last is Reier sending one on its way back to the wild, with a band that will tell us some great information if it is found again!

Whew! This is a cool bird! We do see them extremely often in the urban areas. It is a passage bird - can you guess what it is? A Coopers hawk!
We took a quick photo of this bird!

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