Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hawk Ridge Raptor Banding Summary, Fall 2015

Raptor Banding Summary, Fall 2015

The fall of 2015 was a great season in so many ways. We had two banding trainees, Alan Moss and Reed Turner. It was such a delight to see them progressing to become accomplished banders. Ryan Steiner, this season's owl bander, was a great part of the season's success. He was a joy to work with and kept the nights running smoothly. Miranda Durbin and David Alexander really helped in being able to run our two other stations, Moose Valley and Paine Farm. It was great to see them at the end of each day telling me how their day went and seeing their excitement. The team along with a great volunteer group made the season a success. We also continue to grow with raptor banding volunteers. These include: Bruce Munson, Gary Leeper, Grace Glick, Eliza Grames, Amber Burnette, Meredith Lorig, Kate Nicoletti,  Alex Lamoreaux, Karen Stubenvoll, Valerie Slocum and Abbie Valine.

Kate Nicoletti, image by Frank Nicoletti
Abbie Valine, image by Kate Nicoletti

Valerie Slocum, image by Karen Stubenvoll

Meredith Lorig, image by Karen Stubenvoll

November Hawk Banding Report

Banding of hawks was conducted from August 13 through November 30 at the Hawk Ridge blind, with partial coverage at Paine Farm and Moose Valley throughout the fall. A total 2124 hawks and 1570 owls were banded for a grand total of 3694. This total does not include a number (73) of recoveries or returns. The number of 3694 is below our average since 2011 of 4150, although counts of hawks this season were above average at the lookout. The theme of the season was days with light winds and often from a southerly direction. This kept the birds often higher then normal and not conducive to catching. Also noted were a number of hawks with full crops often flying right by us and not interested in coming into the station. The birds were held up during rainy weather several times and when migrating they were not hungry. This was noted for species such as Sharp-shinned Hawk and Merlin; likely the huge passerine migration hindered our capture rate of these earlier season migrants. Even late season migrants such as Northern Goshawk and Red-tailed Hawk were seen frequently with large bulging crops.

 The hawk migration during November was not unlike the rest of the fall, with record warm temperatures, lack of cold fronts and poor response. We had a nice return of an adult male Northern Goshawk banded originally on 30 September, 2008 at Moose Valley as a second-year and was recaptured at the Hawk Ridge station on 6 November 2015. A total of 35 hawks were banded during the month and season total (2124) which includes the following:  Bald Eagle-0 (4), Northern Harrier-1 (49), Sharp-shinned Hawk-10 (1740), Cooper's Hawk-0 (37), Northern Goshawk-13 (64), Broad-winged Hawk-0 (15), Red-tailed Hawk-11 (93), Rough-legged Hawk-0 (1), American Kestrel-0 (34), Merlin-0 (78) and Peregrine Falcon-0 (10).

David Alexander, image by Miranda Durbin

Miranda Durbin, image by Alex Lamoreaux
Adult male Northern Goshawk, a return from 2008. image by Alex Lamoreaux.

November Owl Report

November is a time of winding down at the owl station.  With the Northern Saw-whet Owl migration essentially complete and the Long-eared Owls making their last push, the last week of the season is all about catching the last owls passing by the ridge.  Although slower than the rest of the season, there are still highlights in this period.  With Long-eared Owls still streaming by in decent numbers, a night of good wind still brings fair numbers of these beautiful creatures, allowing us to catch the last few owls we needed to reach a hundred for the season.

Long-eared Owl, image by Ryan Steiner

When it was time to close down the owl shed for the season we had caught good numbers for the season.  Northern Saw-whet Owls, as usual, made up the bulk of our catches with 1,430 new birds banded and 68 recoveries.  We caught and banded 119 Long-eared Owls as well as a single recapture.  We set a new record for number of Barred Owl captures by catching 22 individuals: 20 new birds banded, 1 return banded last year at Hawk Ridge, and 1 owl banded at another station. A Great Horned Owl was captured after nets were down for the season while fishing for "large owls" on the 13 November. It was a hatch-year male. This individual was pale with no rufous tones but not as pale as subarctic. It's what some call B. v. scalariventris.

Great Horned Owl, imge by Karl Bardon

Great Horned Owl, image by Karl Bardon
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