Thursday, November 21, 2013

Banding Report 11/11-20, 2013

There was no passerine or owl banding during the period, except for a Northern Shrike captured and banded on November 12. Uncooperative weather kept the owl banding from opening, and is likely done for the season. A season end total for all raptors (hawks and owls) will be provided in the next blog.

Hawk banding was surprisingly good especially on several days with strong northwest winds. November 11th and 12th provided 16 raptors of the 24 captured during the period. Although few non-eagles were seen on the count or observed at the banding station, a high percentages of those seen were captured. The breakdown is as follows: 15 Northern Goshawk (7 ASY, 3 SY and 5 HY), 6 Red-tailed Hawk and 3 Rough-legged Hawk. Highlights were 2 adult light rough-legs (male and female) on the 11th and a return goshawk that was banded as an after-second year on November 19, 2005, at Hawk Ridge (hatch in 2003 or earlier) making it at least 10 years old!!!

Frank Nicoletti,
Hawk Ridge Banding Director

ASY male Goshawk, image by Miranda Durbin
ASY (male & female) Goshawk, image by Frank Nicoletti
ASY male Rough-legged Hawk, image by Miranda Durbin

ASY female Rough-legged Hawk, image by Miranda Durbin

Northern Shrike, image by Miranda Durbin

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Banding Report: November 1-10, 2013

The migration has been slower than hoped for during this period. Passerine banding has ended for the season, except for the occasional bird in the raptor nets. Owl migration was good for the first week, until unfavorable weather restricted banding during the end of the period. Annmarie is hoping to get a few more nights in before the snow falls. Hawk banding has been a rollercoster with mostly slow days, but there were a few days of flights where we were able to catch  some birds.

The passerine total for the season at the overlook was 222 birds of 18 species. The high numbers were Black-capped Chickadee with 50, White-throated Sparrow with 82, and Slate-colored Junco with 39. Banding at the overlook was done to primarily educate the public with an emphasis on family and kids. It was a huge success. 
At the main station, we banded 1544 birds of 66 species. High numbers for banded birds were 61 Veery, 66 Swanson's Thrush, 206 Nashville Warbler, 123 American Redstart, 143 White-throated Sparrow, and 124 Slate-colored Junco with all the juncos coming in 5 days. So 1762 birds banded through 10/30 for the project, which is a very respectable total given the relative lack of birds this year. We covered 42 days at the main station and 13 days at the overlook. Thanks to everyone for supervising banding this year. It continues to be the main impediment to getting more days covered. 
-David Alexander

Northern Shrike, image by Chris Neri
In November a total of 86 have been banded, which includes 67 Northern Saw-whet Owls and 19 Long-eared Owls. The best night was on the 1st when there were 22 Saw-whets and 6 Long-eared Owls. Of the 67 Saw-whets banded during the month,  80% were hatch year, which now brings our season hatch year total to 21%. 
-Annmarie Geniusz

Long-eared Owl, image by Annmarie Geniusz
The hawk banding will continue until the 30 of November, but primarily from the main station as Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley have returned to Whitefish Point, Michigan where they live and work. It was great having them back for their third season. The month of October total of 625 hawks banded is as follows: 1 Bald Eagle, 2 Northern Harrier, 426 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 20 Cooper's Hawk, 51 Northern Goshawk, 2 Broad-winged Hawk, 88 Red-tailed Hawk, 18 Rough-legged Hawk, 4 American Kestrel, 10 Merlin and 3 Peregrine Flacon.
In the first ten days of November, there have been 28 hawks banded which includes: 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 9 Northern Goshawk, 8 Red-tailed Hawk and 10 Rough-legged Hawk. Other highlights this month included the observation of an adult light morph Swanson's Hawk that spent part of the day hunting the fields and perching on hay bales at Moose Valley site on the 6th. Also seen at that location was a rare visitor to Duluth, a flyby Black-billed Magpie on the 5th. 
-Frank Nicoletti, David Alexander, Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley.

Adult Northern Goshawk, image by Miranda Durbin
Frank Nicoletti
Hawk Ridge Banding Director

Monday, November 4, 2013

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries 27 October-3 November 2013


Most of the week was heavily overcast with fog, mist and drizzle, giving us some very low counts for raptors and non-raptors, but the good news was that once this weather cleared out with west winds on November 2nd, we got a great push of birds including 141 Bald Eagles, 21 Golden Eagles, 10 Northern Goshawks, and 155 Rough-legged Hawks. This count of Rough-legs is the third highest for Hawk Ridge, and the best flight since 1994 when 176 were seen on November 29th (the record count is 204 birds seen at the Ridge on November 10th, 1963). With most of November yet to come, when the majority of Rough-legs often move through, I am hoping for some more great Rough-leg days. In contrast to last year when very few juvenile Rough-legs were seen, this year there are good numbers of both adults and juveniles. Although it seems likely that most Red-tails and Northern Goshawks have moved through, no doubt there are still good numbers of Bald and Golden Eagles yet to come. If we get a major cold front in the next few weeks, there will likely be hundreds of Balds and dozens of Goldens riding the Ridge.


The same weather which held back raptor migration for most of the last week also did the same for non-raptors, with a great flight commencing on November 2nd, when 4881 non-raptors flew over, most of which were American Robins, but a good diversity of other species showed up as well, such as Horned Larks, American Pipits, Snow Buntings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Rusty Blackbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, and a few Pine Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills. Most non-raptor migration is usually done by November, so this flight was somewhat unusual. With continued relatively mild conditions (and still some fall color left in the trees!), it seems possible that we will see more of these species.

A few Boreal Chickadees have shown up, including two on November 2nd, so perhaps this is the beginning of an irruption for this species. In contrast, it is quite clear by now that this is one of the worst finch years I have ever experienced. Whenever there have been good irruptions of northern finches during these non-raptor counts, they have peaked in late October, so it seems doubtful that any large numbers are still on their way. In the last five years, the overall number of finches counted has varied from 13,000-50,000, and this year the total is only at 11,819, most of which were American Goldfinches. A few of the northern finches can be expected in their usual range within the boreal forest of course, but I doubt that very many of them will make it further south this winter. Nevertheless, a local bumper mountain ash crop is already attracting robins, bluebirds and waxwings (including Bohemians), so perhaps it will be a good season for berry eaters.

This blog was made possible by generous assistance from Cory Ritter, Andrew Longtin and Joe Beck: we may not have built the Eiffel Tower or the Lift-bridge, but we certainly have counted a lot of birds together! Thanks guys!

Karl Bardon
Count Director
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Bald Eagle
Adult Bald Eagle flying below Hawk Ridge with fall color and Lake Superior in the background