As we near the mid-way point in May our raptor banding season is still going strong! My last update was on April 28th and at that point we stood at 121 total captures on the season. Including today we now stand at 183 total captures of 7 different species. Now let’s dive into some of the exciting news from the past couple of weeks.
On April 29th we were able to add a new species to our station and this species was… drum roll please… a Rough-legged hawk (RLHA)! We then captured another RLHA on May 2nd. Both of these birds were juvenile females. Being that they are young and won’t breed this summer they are in no rush to get back to the arctic and this explains why we caught these birds so late in the season.
On April 29th we also had a surprising and once in a lifetime capture. We caught an adult Red-tailed hawk that was already banded and aged this bird to be at least in its 6th year of life. When we got the report back it turns out this bird was originally banded Nov 6th 1999 in Southern Ontario making this bird at least 22 years old! As it stands this recovery puts this bird in the top 10 for oldest RTHA ever recovered/recaptured. We are still awaiting specific information on the bird as it could be even older. This is by far one of the most exciting birds I have ever captured. This also helps add to our understanding of a species longevity one of the many things we learn from banding birds. In case you are wondering what the oldest RTHA ever recovered was, the answer is 30 and this bird was also recovered in Michigan.
As we approach the end of the season the flight has mainly turned into young birds and our captures reflect that. We mainly are catching young red-tails and young sharp-shinned hawks. It is also interesting to note that we already have surpassed last years total of 177 captures. The weather looks like it is going to continue to be great over the weekend and into next week, so I’m assuming that the flight and captures of birds will remain consistent as we approach the big 200 bird milestone!
2021 Spring Season Totals
57 + 2 (foreign) Sharp-shinned Hawk
5 Northern Harrier
3 Coopers Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
108 + 1 (foreign) Red-tailed Hawk
2 Rough-legged Hawk
Season Total: 180 New 3 Foreign
Grand total = 183