Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hawk Ridge Banding Report: November 16-December 8 and Final Season Totals

Raptor Banding Report

This period saw many good days that were cold and blustery with northwest winds and produced a moderate number of raptors, but there was a notable lack of an eagle flight and dwindling numbers of Northern Goshawks. However, certainly the highlight of the period (and the season) came on 21st when a Snowy Owl was seen coming into the station and was captured. It had been migrating down the ridge low and was captured by last season's "unofficial" intern Rachel Harris. The owl was a very healthy hatch-year male that weigh 1735 grams. This is the first Snowy Owl ever captured at Hawk Ridge and represent the 25th species of raptors banded at Hawk Ridge in it's 43 years of operation (that includes 16 hawks and 9 owls)!

Rachel Harris and the first Snowy Owl ever banded for the project (David Alexander)

The season this year was extended into the first week of December. Several Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks and eagles were seen along with adult male Northern Goshawk, the only raptor captured during the week.

Last raptor banded this season, ASY male Northern Goshawk (Frank Nicoletti)

A total of 18 raptors were banded during this period  (November 16- December 8) and the month total of (75). The following are the results: Northern Harrier-0 (3 month), Sharp-shinned Hawk-0 (3), Northern Goshawk-10 (35), Red-tailed Hawk-2 (17), Rough-legged Hawk-5 (16) and one Snowy Owl. This however does not include the already reported numbers of owls banded in November as reported by Madison McConnell in the last banding blog.

The season started on 13 August and ended 8 December, 2014. It was a very successful season with 3,869 raptors (hawks and owls) captured and is above last season totals by nearly 700 raptors, but well below the 2011 and 2012 total by almost 1000 raptors each year. This season totals of diurnal raptors are as follows: Bald Eagle-9, Northern Harrier-41, Sharp-shinned Hawk-2,390, Cooper's Hawk-37, Northern Goshawk-105, Broad-winged Hawk-16, Red-shouldered Hawk-1, Red-tailed Hawk-110, Rough-legged Hawk-21, American Kestrel-31, Merlin-85, Peregrine Falcon-8, Prairie Falcon-1 and Snowy Owl-1. The owl numbers are as follow: Northern Saw-whet Owl-979 (includes 42 already banded) Long-eared Owl-32 (2 from Moose Valley) and 4 Barred Owls.

Update on Satellite Tracking

The adult male Golden Eagle "Jack #53"  is near the Missouri-Arkansas border.  He arrived on about Nov 29. This is very close to his wintering area of the past 2 winters. So far he has traveled 2200 miles from his breeding ground which he has spent the past two summers above Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories   He started his migration on the 18 October and was recorded near Duluth on the 14 November.

Tracking Jack is part of the Golden Eagle Tracking project of Audubon Minnesota & The National Eagle Center in cooperation with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory & the Minnesota DNR Nongame Program.

# 53 Jack movement this fall 
The Turkey Vulture "Tommy" that was captured and fitted with a wing tag (#400) and satellite transmitter in early August,  started it's migration on 4 October and reached it's wintering ground on 27 October. Its been making local movements in southern Mexico near the Guatemala border.

Tracking this Turkey Vulture is part of the Turkey Vulture Migration Project of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in cooperation with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

Turkey Vulture "Tommy" migration from Duluth to southern Mexico.

Turkey Vulture "Tommy" local movements southern Mexico.
A full banding summary will be included in the Hawk Ridge Newsletter with many of the important details. Please consider becoming a member of the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory to receive this and learn about the many other important activities that Hawk Ridge conducts during the year.

I would like to thank the staff and the many volunteers who made this season a great success.
Thank you and have a great Holiday Season!

Frank Nicoletti
Hawk Ridge Banding Director

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