half a million birds will be reached sometime in the next few weeks. This is by far the best non-raptor count ever, and it will likely be the best raptor count since 2004. These great totals are due in large part to the excellent counting skills of Alex Lamoreaux and Kaija Gahm, who have been a great team on the Ridge this year. I would also like to thank the help of our many experienced volunteers, including Steve Kolbe, Dave Carman, Jan and Larry Kraemer, Kathleen MacAulay, Joe Beck, Scott Moorhouse, Don Kienholz, Reed Turner, Russ Edmonds, and Karen Stubenvoll.
Needless to say, large flights of birds have been seen the last ten days. We had several days in excess of 20,000 non-raptors on October 6th and 13th, but it seems that almost every day recently has been busy. This is the busiest time of year for volume of non-raptors, and they certainly haven't disappointed us! Blistering flights of mixed non-raptors have included flocks of hundreds of American Robins and Rusty Blackbirds, which are often mixed with Purple Finches and other assorted species. Often in the air at the same time are American Crows, Common Ravens, Horned Larks, Eastern Bluebirds, American Pipits, various sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Lapland Longspurs, The number of warblers has dropped off sharply and even the Yellow-rumps seem to be mostly done. Replacing them are the first Northern Shrikes, Bohemian Waxwings, Snow Buntings, Pine Grosbeaks, and Common Redpolls. It appears we are going to have another large finch flight this season, made up mostly of Purple Finches, Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls.
The raptor flights have also been busy, especially with Red-tailed Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks, but we are still getting at least a few individuals of most raptor species. Red-tails have finally begun to outnumber Sharpies, with counts of 658, 714, and 792 Red-tails the last three days October 13-15th. These flights have including a high proportion of dark/rufous type Western birds, including 13 on the 13th, and the first Harlan's Hawk of the season (a light morph adult) was seen on October 14th. Golden Eagles, Northern Goshawks, and Rough-legged Hawks have all started moving in good numbers, including 12 goshawks on October 14th and 6 Goldens on both October 13th and 14th. All of the goshawks seen have been juveniles, so it seems this was a good production year for them, but it clearly will not be an invasion year (since "invasions" are mostly adults, and typically peaked in mid-October). During the next few weeks we will see the peak of the Red-tailed Hawk migration, which s my favorite time of year, so come join us!
|American Robin in flight showing off its rufous breast. We have counted 84,311 of these sturdy fliers, which is our second best season so far, including flights of over 10,000 on October 6th and 13th.|
|Alex Lamoreaux counting birds in front of a rainbow and fall colors on Thursday. Not a bad place to work, eh? Not shown is the howling northwest wind!|
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory