Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random cool bird articles

Here are a couple of cool articles - one on cuckoos and their hatching times, and one on Steller's Sea Eagles and plumage/subspecies questions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quality Vs. Quantity

Okay - we all knew there were going to be weekends like this - not a lot of birds flying, and not many taking looks at us. Always nice scenery and I am with the best people ever, so it is an easy way to spend time, though. With that - we were lucky to get 5 birds Saturday and 10 on Sunday. We did get the Holy Trinity of Accipiters though - we got shins, a goshawk and a Cooper's hawk! Note the imperfection in the goshawk's eye - focal hyperpigmentation of the iris (isn't it great to work with vets?)

The first three of the hatch year Goshawk - cool bird! Check out that tail! The last two are of the Cooper's Hawk. The last - but certainly not least - is an After Hatch Year Shin.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Couple more banding pics

Courtesy of Frank Taylor - here is a pic of a shin, sloughing scales off the tarso metatarsus. And me - very happy to band my first Broad-wing!

Monday, September 20, 2010

. . . And Then it Got EVEN BETTER

So - remember how I wrote just last weekend that 52 birds in a weekend was approaching the best ever? And that 40 birds in a day WAS the best ever? Well - we knocked off one of those records this past weekend! West winds on Saturday brought us 33 birds, and the beginning of Sunday was also west, so we had 22 by 12:30 before it shifted SE. So - everyone, everyone - 55 birds for the weekend!

And it didn't stop with just numbers. I told Rick, one of the sub-banders that our luck was so good, we should try for unicorns, since we already pulled in two mythical species already. We got not only a hatch year male American kestrel, but also a hatch year Broad-winged hawk! Both of those are very tough birds to convince to come in for us.

Wait - what's this? Actually - we got 35 birds on Saturday - two Blue Jays found their way in our nets. We didn't band them, since our permit is not for passerines, but they sure were pretty!

I don't think the new M Knight Shamalan movie "Devil" did so well this weekend. He should have used this AHY female Sharp-shinned hawk! AAAAHHHHH!

We did get three merlins in addition to the shins, kestrel and broad-wing. Todd lets it go after it has new jewelry! You can see that the unfamiliar weight of the band makes the leg hang down for just a moment. The bird will get used to this in no time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interesting articles

Will try to throw a few interesting bits up in between hawk postings . . . Here are a couple of interesting articles: one is for a citizen science database, started to keep track of roadkill. It is pretty cool. Idea is to actually monitor who/where wildlife and highways are not getting along very well. Another one (thanks Becky!) talks about birds and ants! Keep your fingers crossed for another good hawk weekend! The Broad-wings are moving in big numbers as expected. Hawk Ridge saw its first Golden Eagle of the season, too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Never Been so Good

So, last year for hawk banding, we did not even crack 100 in the entire season. This season - only two weekends into it - we are at 82 birds already! We had 30 last weekend, and a whopping 52 this weekend. We had 12 on Sat and 40 on Sunday. Frank said it was a record - the previous days' record at 36 or 37. We had mostly Shins again, but we did get a merlin, and another person banding up our way had a peregrine come in that he didn't band, but brought it up to our blind. In all the years I have been involved (14!) I had not banded a peregrine. I did this one! What a handsome boy! The first photo is the merlin, and the last four of the peregrine.

Interesting note (confirmed by Frank Nicoletti, a true hawk counting and banding legend) - as with most species, the HY (hatch year, or juvenile) birds will start to mvoe before the adults will. The female Shins move first before the males, too. Our first weekend, we saw only a few males, and banded only a couple. This past weekend, it was way more even with males and females, with the HY birds still outnumbering the adults by a ways.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Weekend at the Blind!

Anyone who knows me, knows that this is my absolute, all-time most favoritest of favorite times of year. I get football, and I get to band hawks.

This past weekend was a great way to start off - 30 birds! 29 were Sharp-shinned hawks, and we got one merlin. Saw plenty, too - broad-wings, harriers, peregrines, kestrels, eagles, red-tails and osprey. The first picture is a hatch year merlin. The next one is a hatch year shin - the last is an after-hatch-year shin. Notice the difference in plumage and eye color.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rose breasted Grosbeaks

This gorgeous lady is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The males are a more accurate depiction of their species. The females have that fabulous lemony-goodness under the wing. Brave Roger is holding her to show you, knowing that that beak is heading right for his fingers.

When I first started banding, I had a list of "birds I would super-really-love to have in the nets to see." This species was one of them. However, when I offered to get the first one out, and was warmly encouraged, it became quite clear why. Those beaks rarely break the skin, but give you quite a good pinch if you are not careful. And since there is no obvious injury, it is really tough to get any kind of sympathy.