It’s Raining Raptors

“Kirby” The first Red-tailed Hawk of our Project outfitted with a GPS/GSM Transmitter

Its’s great to be back again and running MSRW’s raptor banding station for the second season in a row! After having a very successful inaugural season we were all excited for what the second season would bring and there is a lot to tell all you fine folks, so let’s jump right in.

Our season officially began on March 30th and since then it has been raining raptors pretty much everyday except for today and yesterday and that is due to the weather naturally. To date we have banded 85 new birds of 6 species and have had two foreign recaptures (meaning the bird was banded somewhere else previously). Both of these recaptures were Sharp-shinned hawks and I will provide the details on where they came from shortly.

Now I want to talk about our Red-tailed Hawk project. Some of you may or may not have heard but this spring season we raised enough money to purchase 11 GPS/GSM tracking units. The purpose is to attach them to migrating Red-tailed Hawks that are crossing the Straits region on their northbound migration. We are interested in documenting the full cycle or year-round migration of Red-tailed Hawks (RTHA) through the great lake’s region. This has never been documented for this species in this area before. By attaching these units, we will also see how the Great Lakes shape Red-tails’ migration. This will also help quantify the theory that raptors will avoid crossing large bodies of water due to the inherent danger of undertaking such a feat, instead looking for the shortest distances of water to cross as they move through the Great Lakes. Apart from the GPS data we get we will also be getting a ton of behavioural and environmental data from these units which will shed light on to exactly when conditions are favourable for Red-tails to migrate and cross the straits which will be quite interesting to find out. So far, we have successfully deployed all 11 units!

To help deploy these units a friend and colleague Bryce Robinson, who is currently doing his PhD on Red-tailed Hawks at Cornell University, came out to help me attach these units. If you are interested in reading about what Bryce is up to, I have a link here to his project website. Our birds are also on his page since we are collaborators, so go check it out!

I also have to thank Ed Pike and Leah Rudge for their help in the blind on days we were outfitting birds with transmitters, as they helped process other birds being captured.

Stay tuned for my next blog to find out where our foreign Sharp-shinned hawks came from along with more updates on our newly tagged birds!

2021 Spring Season Totals

21 + 2(foreign) Sharp-shinned Hawks

1 Merlin

3 Northern Harriers

2 Coopers Hawks

1 Red-shouldered Hawk

57 Red-tailed Hawks

Season Total: 85 New 2 Foreign, Grand total = 87

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