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!