Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Charismatic Megafauna weekend

Quick post for today. Was able to spend a little more time at the blind this past weekend, but that means that getting everything done around home has less time! Going to call this past weekend the title of the blog; we had more eagles around than I think I have seen there, and we found the maker of the wolf scat that we saw at the first weekend of banding. The first pic shows two young eagle heads; someone had shot a deer illegally near the blind, and it sure brought in lots of attention from corvids and eagles alike.

Next couple of pics shows the wolf that we saw several times! We saw another individual, too. Pretty cool!

And finally - bander Rick releases two Sharp-shinned hawks with bands!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heron comparisons

This past summer I found a great opportunity to show the size difference in a Great Blue Heron, and a Green Heron. These two were sharing hunting grounds in a local lake.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not a Great Hawk Weekend

With SSE winds and rain, it didn't shape up to be a fantastic hawk weekend. Always great to hang out with a wonderful group of people, and who doesn't love being up near Duluth, though, right? And - in all the years I have been doing this - did see the most beguiling, comely female Sharp-shinned Hawk yet. Just look at her - what a sexpot.

A footnote that probably showcases the story better than anything else - some of the best pics I took were of a non-raptor. Though wrens of all species do share a certain inflated sense of self, Sedge Wrens are particularly full of. Themselves. ;)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blue Jay Feeding TIme

I'm not taking a break from hawks - still have plenty of photos to post of those. But did want to put up these - a young Blue Jay, doing his best imitation of I'm Starving. Blue Jays are moving south in big numbers now; they make up quite a few of the non-raptors we are seeing up north. These photos were taken in one of the MANY parks near me (did I mention I chose where I live well????).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Farewell, Good Friend

I wish farewell to one of my oldest friends, and one of my greatest teachers - Dusty the Barn Owl. He was one of the first raptors I worked with, and what he taught me cannot be equalled. He passed away today. He came to Como Zoo in 1990 - it is believed to be his hatch year, but he could have been older. I started working with him in 1997, and hope that I gave him even one small part of the joy that he gave me by being in his presence.

We will miss you, good friend. Be at peace and know that you were loved in your time here with us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Blind - Weekend #2

We had planned to get things open a little later than usual this weekend, but I am pretty programmed, and so just headed up. Found a nice little AHY male merlin, also up early and looking for feathered breakfast.

Got confirmation from Dr. David L. Mech, who offices where I do - this is wolf scat! We had seen a wolf close to the blind a few years ago, so was not completely surprised to find this.

Had some interesting cloud patterns over us for a while -

The last three pics show just a bit of the differences within species that we find. These are all HY Sharp-shinned hawks - but look how different they look! The first one was very light, and had green eyes.

This last bird had very dark, mottled plumage.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hairy Woodpecker

It didn't seem quite right to title this post as "Old Girl." However, this Hairy Woodpecker, retrapped recently at Springbrook, is 13 years old! She was banded here as a HY (Hatch Year) bird on October 4, 1998. In January 1999, she became, for records standardization, a SY (Second Year) bird. So, technically, on January 1, 2011, she became 13. Since her hatch date was probably sometime in March/April, she really did have her 13th birthday already!

The record for age for Hairy Woodpeckers is 15 years and 11 months, so she is not breaking any records. However, it is not common to find individuals that we can prove (with banding records) an age like this. The Bird Banding Lab has redone their website, so if you haven't checked it out recently, you should! You can report banded birds (dead or alive) and find lots of fantastic information that is known due to banding efforts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Opening weekend at the Blind!

We opened up the blind for the official 2011 season this past weekend! A better birthday present couldn't be had!
We had 11 birds on Saturday and 17 on Sunday. Majority, as expected, were Sharp-shinned hawks, and rest were merlins! Here are some release shots - Frank Taylor in the first two, releasing shins. Chuck Schotzko in the next one with a merlin, and Chuck and wife Nancy releasing two shins and a merlin in the last.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Whooping Crane National update

(Thank you to Bob Russell of the USFWS for this MOU post): The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population (AWBP) of whooping cranes rebounded from 263 in the spring of 2010 to 279 in the spring, 2011. With approximately 37 chicks fledged from a record 75 nests in August 2011, theflock size should reach record levels of around 300 this fall. Threats to the flock in Texas including land development, reduced freshwater inflows,the spread of black mangrove, the long-term decline of blue crabpopulations, sea level rise, land subsidence, and wind farm and power lineconstruction in the migration corridor all continue to be important issues. Twelve whooping crane juveniles were captured in Wood Buffalo National Park(WBNP) in August 2011, bringing the total number of radioed birds to 23.

Crews visited migration stopover sites to gather habitat use data. This project is being carried out by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) withpartners including The Crane Trust, Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and others. It is funded by the PlatteRiver Recovery Implementation Program, The Crane Trust, and the NorthernPrairie Wildlife Research Center. The tracking is the first done on theAWBP in 25 years and is a top research priority of the Whooping CraneRecovery Team!

Since the 1950s, 525 AWBP whooping cranes have died withonly 50 carcasses recovered, and approximate cause of death was determinedin only 38 instances. It is imperative that we learn more about whoopingcrane mortality. Based on opportunistic sightings, the Cooperative Whooping Crane TrackingProject documented 79 confirmed sightings of whooping cranes in the U.S.Central Flyway during fall, 2010 and 49 sightings in spring, 2011. Ten captive-raised whooping cranes were released in February, 2011 at WhiteLake, Louisiana where a non-migratory flock had resided up until 1950. Seven of the birds were alive after the first seven months of the project.

Production in the wild from reintroduced flocks in 2011 was again verydisappointing with no chicks fledged in Florida or Wisconsin. Incubationbehavior in Florida and nest abandonment in Wisconsin continued to be thefocus of research. Data collected so far in Wisconsin indicates thatswarms of black flies play some kind of role in a majority of nestabandonments.The captive flocks had a good production season in 2011. Approximately 17 chicks were raised in captivity for the non-migratory flock in Louisiana,and 18 chicks are headed for Wisconsin (10 for the ultralight project atthe White River marshes, and 8 for Direct Autumn Release at HoriconNational Wildlife Refuge). Approximately four chicks of high genetic value were held back for the captive flocks. Including juvenile cranes expected to be reintroduced this fall, flocksizes are estimated at 278 for the AWBP, 115 for the WI to FL flock, 20nonmigratory birds in Florida, and 24 in Louisiana. With 162 cranes incaptivity, the total of whooping cranes is 599.