Return of the Ticks! Raptor Banding Update

As the spring season slowly winds down and there are only three days left to this inaugural raptor banding season I have been reflecting over the past few days and thinking of all the pros and cons of the season. The pros were that we caught a great diversity of birds and had a very successful season in pretty much every aspect. Also, as we get further into to spring it is very therapeutic to set up in the morning and be serenated by the dawn chorus of migrants who have returned north again. The cons, well with the warm weather comes the emergence of the black flies, mosquitos and ohhhh of course my favorite….. ticks! If I’m being completely honest, I liked it early in the season sitting in the cold and not dealing with biting insects. The only con to being in the cold is you can’t enjoy all the singing birds each morning. Anyway, on to the good stuff and a quick recap from when I last left you all.

Since my last update we have captured and banded another 38 birds bringing our season total to 180 birds of 11 species! I know in my last post I said my new goal was to reach 200 captures but with only 3 days left it may be a hard feat to pull off. I think I will settle for a new goal of 190 a nice round even number (I think this is my OCD kicking in). The last week or so has mainly been comprised of young birds primarily Red-tailed hawks. During spring migration, it is normal to have the young birds return last and this is usually a good sign that migration is slowing down and coming to an end. The reason the young birds are back last is because they are not breeding so there is no rush to get North and secure a territory. Instead, they can take their time and figure out their first journey back north. Also, a lot of young birds get disoriented along the way and this also adds time to their migration.

 I have also started another side project on top of the raptor banding. Early in the morning over the last few days I have wandered out and tried setting nets for songbirds. I am doing this because I have a lot of songbird experience, and as any scientist I am curious as to what birds I’m not hearing that are in the surrounding woods that are adjacent to the blind. So far, I have managed to catch 3 birds; an Ovenbird a larger warbler species known for its fast “Teacher Teacher Teacher” song, an Alder flycatcher a small olive-green bird who’s call sounds like it is saying “free beer” and a Blue jay. This blue jay had a brood patch which is a breeding characteristic birds show in summer. It’s basically when a bird loses feathers on the body and the skin becomes filled with fluid. This is so they can transfer heat and incubate their eggs. This blue jay because of this characteristic made her a female and she was already on eggs somewhere nearby, pretty cool!

With that I will leave you fine folks yet again. I will be doing one more post after this summarizing the season so stay tuned in the next coming week. Until then and as always stay classy folks.

Nick Alioto

Spring 2020 Raptor Trapping Totals:

7   NOHA (Northern Harrier)

6   MERL (Merlin)

4   AMKE (American Kestrel)

3   NOGO (Northern Goshawk)

4   COHA (Cooper’s Hawk)

65 SSHA (Sharp-shinned Hawk)

85 RTHA (Red-Tailed Hawk)

2   RSHA (Red-shouldered Hawk)

2   BWHA (Broad-winged Hawk)

1   RLHA (Rough-Legged Hawk)

1   GOEA (Golden Eagle)

Total Birds: 180