November 15, 2012

Catching Hawks (also bluebirds)

So, I know the title says catching hawks, but first, it's bluebird time! Why you ask? Why because bluebirds are my study species! Also because I said so.
Bluebirds and some house finches chilling in a hay field

This is a yellow rumped warbler

Okay, so it's not just bluebird time. This is a western kingbird

See! Bluebirds!

More bluebirds! This guy is chilling on top of the same box he nested in during the spring

Chubby little chipping sparrow

One chipping sparrow and two house finches
 Okay, bluebird time is now over. Now it's time for hawks! This pictures are from a field trip that my raptor research techniques class (aka four grad students) took last week. We were looking for red-tailed hawks or kestrels as those were the birds we had traps ready for. Traps consist of a small wire-mesh cage with a bait animal (in this case cotton rats) inside. The outside of the trap is covered in monofilament nooses which trap the raptors feet when they try to catch the bait.
We got lucky and caught a red-tailed hawk on our first try. He was not happy about it.

Manages to look someone dignified considering he's stuck to the trap.

Okay, not so dignified anymore.

It's okay Mr.Hawk, hugs will make it better

Pulling nooses off his feet

Yeah, he was not the happiest of hawks, I guess the hugs weren't helping

This is why they're called red-tails (Though of course there are several color morphs that have a much less pronounced red-tail)

Measuring his tarsus (Length from the ankle to the foot)

Measuring his wing length

Looking at molt limits to determine age. This guy was at least two years old based on the differences in color between some of his primary and secondary feathers.

And this is how you remove any remaining dignity from a hawk (also weigh them).

Have you hugged a hawk today? (I did!)

Kind of looks like he's trying to dance with me

He just wants a hug, I'm sure.

In case you can't tell, I was super excited about the whole holding a hawk thing.

Okay, time to let him go now


Red-tails weren't the only hawk out. This is a Northern Harrier Hawk, you can tell by the white rump patch.

Geese! There were hundreds of geese just chillin on the rice fields.

We decided to go check out the view from the levee. So. Many. Birds. (mostly ducks)

But also some White Pelicans!

Flying Pelicans!

Saw a different hawk perched on a telephone pole on the drive back to school.

This band on his leg was placed eight years ago when he was a hatch-year by another researcher.

That's all for now! Bye!